Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday night brights

See that grin?! That means He is thinking up a whopper of a story. It all had to do with the large limb that fell into the yard on Saturday evening. I heard a loud noise, and when I opened the slider I found this very long and long time dead limb that had fallen from one of the 100 foot fir trees in the backyard.

Honey has already cut about 8 - 9 feet off the end, and it still is the same diameter. There is another 12 to 15 feet hanging off the saw horse still needing to be cut up.

The limb had been dead a long time and simply hanging in the tree. We have been keeping an eye on it. Apparently it was the right moment to fall or be blown out of the tree. Clearly we do not have ladders tall enough to take care of the deadwood in the trees. So far we have been real lucky, no one has been in the way when a limb has fallen. I thought this was as least 5 inches, in diameter.
This was the first photo, and I had remarked that it was hard to capture the full size in a photo shot. That is when Honey began the tale of the huge one that did not get away!

At the market were these lovely peaches. I hear jam calling. I need to make a decision on the recipe, something zingy for sure.

Roasted pepper photo number 1.
This shot taken in the beginning, not all the turning has been completed.

Roasted pepper shot number 2.
This shot was taken at the end of the roasting.

When these were sat side by side, there was no difference. Pan or burner or even gas grill.

But here is the reason I did this. I love roasted peppers and have always thought I had to roast them on the grill. Grill roasting is great if you have a bunch and roast up the whole lot and put them in the freezer. But how about the times when you have one lonely pepper in the fridge and you don't plan on using it fresh, and turning on the gas grill for one pepper just does not seem like the thing to do?

Here is what I did, I decided that for the most part, heat is heat. I then roasted one on a small grill pan that I have and one directly on the burner, there was no difference.


My days of losing a pepper to rot are over. Throw it on the burner and get it roasted already!

Oh and I did one other thing, I roasted a green bell pepper. I wanted to try roasting a green pepper and freezing it for use later. I have frozen diced green peppers before, and although it was better than none, I did not think they kept that well in the freezer. I am hoping this works better.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop and say hello.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some Sunday Cafe pictures, didn't get it all!

This is the Maple Peach pie before the pecan topping.

With the topping and real maple syrup drizzled over the top.

The finished pie, everyone said it was great. I will share the recipe. I had to change things a bit to work with the ingredients I had at hand, but I think the final product came out real well.

Little jam pies. Homemade pie crust cut into small squares, sprinkles with a small dab of cinnamon sugar, then baked. Serve with a small bowl of homemade jam, to add a taste. These were fun.

Almond sugar cookies. Yum, yum, yum.

Veggie tray with a creamy Italian dressing to dunk into.

Watermelon and red grapes on a fruit tray.

Roasted vegetables for the pizzas, zucchini, red onion, 2 large Portobello mushrooms and corn. I tried the corn as a lark, but it was very good.

Sorry this is all I was able to get a photo of before the hub-bub started and everyone showed up. In addition to the roasted veggies there was:

Homemade pizza crust, one mostly white flour and the other 100 % whole wheat
red sauce
Alfredo sauce
mozzarella pearls
grated mozzarella
feta crumbles
blue cheese crumbles
Parmesan and Romano shreds
torn poached chicken breast
cooked and chopped mild Italian sausage
beef meatballs cut into quarters
avocado wedges
fresh sliced green onions

We precooked one side of the crusts, slid them onto a dinner plate and handed each person a pizza crust to dress up as they choose. Then it was easy to slide the dressed pizzas back onto the grill and close the lid to finish cooking the dough and heat the toppings.

I also made a roasted cauliflower salad. A head of cauliflower sliced, 2 lemons sliced and olive oil to moisten. Roast at 500 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Cauliflower, like most brown dishes does not photograph well. I really like the oven roasted lemons, and would like to play around with some roasted lemon halves and try to make a vinaigrette with the roasted pulp.

As usual a tossed salad.

I offered cold beer, cold Pepsi, cold milk and Sangria.

Another nice time with family, thanks for checking in, I appreciate it!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Flavored Vinegar with Peppers and Onions

This book looks familiar because it is just like the mustard book, only for vinegar. I purchased both books at Powell's many years ago, knowing I would journey back to where I am going. I have been going "home" since I returned to Vancouver in 2003. A lot of steps along the way, but each day the journey takes me closer to my kind of home.

A home where food is cooked with fresh ingredients, and served with pride. Where furnishings are comfortable and you can put your feet on the coffee table, while you sip your coffee. Or eat a slice of pie, or sip a glass of wine.

Today I made seasoned vinegar with pepper and onions.  This is a wonderful flavored vinegar to keep on hand.

Vinegar with Peppers and Onion
adapted from:  Gourmet Vinegars
makes 1 qt finished vinegar

1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 yellow pepper, chopped fine
1 red pepper, chopped fine
1 red onion, cut in half and sliced thin
1 quart vinegar

The onion and peppers vinegar is on the left. 

The resting time is 4 - 6 weeks.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks for taking a minute to stop and say hello. We appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!

Mustard, a true confession (Maker's Mark Mustard)

That little jar looks innocent, doesn't it? Well it is innocent, it has done nothing wrong, but it also happens to be a quart. Yep, you read it right a QUART. Who makes a quart of homemade mustard? Only someone like me, that has no idea when they first begin, actually how to do it.

So here is the confession, I love mustard. I like to do things myself. So the next step was homemade mustard.

After Honey installed the spice racks, I had lots of mustard seed.

When I put the spice racks together with filled jars of the herbs and spices that I use, that resulted in sandwich bags of herbs that were in the jars from the manufacturer. Most of it went into the garbage. But I did save the mustard seeds. In a moment of frugal glory, I thought, make homemade mustard.

There was about 1 1/2 c of mustard seed. No big deal I thought at the time. I poured them into a plastic container and poured the last of the Marker's Mark whiskey (left from several Christmas' ago) over the top, put the lid on and left them alone. I would shake it up every now and again. When they had taken up the liquid, it was mustard making time. During the resting time, I researched mustard making on the internet. What I learned right away, is that it does not take a lot of mustard seed to make a small jar of mustard. My brain began thinking about that 2 cup container of drunk seeds...........

This morning I dumped the whole mess into the food processor. It sure looks like a lot! Then I began to grind and process. Let me tell you this right now, mustard seeds are hard little things, even when they have partied for a couple of weeks.

Another thing I learned is that the ratio is about 3:1. Three parts liquid to one part mustard. I like my mustard on the sturdy side, thick enough that when I dip a knife into the jar, the mustard will mound a bit onto the knife and not run off like a sauce.

Ultimately here is what is in the quart jar,

1 1/2 c mustard seeds
1/2 c Maker's Mark
2/3 c water
2/3 c cider vinegar
2 t salt
2 T French Thyme
3/4 c honey

Grind, age, enjoy.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

From here on out, I will follow a recipe. Well for mustard anyway!


Sunday Cafe menu

This Sunday Cafe will be casual and laid back, a nice and easy family day.

I am always open to requests from my family for a desired dish or complete theme for Sunday Cafe. Cooking different foods and trying new tastes is what it is all about. When I do receive a request, the fun part is searching for a recipe that is new and will fill the request.

Daughter in Law requested grilled pizza. What a great way to end the summer. I had already noticed this great recipe over at SPROUTED KITCHEN, and while we will have a variety of toppings, the pictures are stunning. All of her shots are stunning, and the food looks more delicious than what goes on my table!

I will grill up some vegetables and meats and have them ready to go for pizza assembly.

Maybe some grilled chicken breast seasoned with garlic and smoked paprika. Then it can be "torn" into pieces that will heat quickly.

A link of Italian sausage, then sliced. Tiny meatballs, cut in half (so they don't roll away)

For veggies a zucchini, purple onion, an ear of corn, red bell pepper, potato slices, cloves of garlic.

Red sauce for those that like it, and a creamy white sauce to play around with.

A variety of cheeses, mozzarella, feta, blue cheese crumbles and cheddar. It will be interesting to see the different combination that come of this offering.

There will be a large salad, and a fresh vegetable plate with a "dunk" to dip into.

And of course dessert........

I also received a couple of requests this time around for specific desserts. This peach pie was a request, and these blueberry cream cheese bars , I seem to make a lot of desserts from Kevin's blog, Daughter in Law is a real fan of his recipes.

And I want to make these cookies, I visit the Daily Diner and enjoy her down to earth posts. The cookies will grace a fruit tray, after all you can never get enough fruits and veggies!

As always thanks for taking the time to stop and take a peek, time to enjoy the weekend.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Spoken goals, for 2010

2010 is not that far away.

It seems like just yesterday it was 2000, and the world was worried if the computers could take the change. Was life going to stop, if the computers were down? As it all turned out, the whole thing went quite well.

I too have been known to pre-worry. Sometimes this works to my advantage, because I have already figured out the "fix" to my worry. And I am home free, especially when it never ever happens!

But I do have a list of things that I want to have in place by 2010.

By the way, that is only 97 days away. Where did that 10 years go? Because life happens so fast, I am going to do the following:

+ More fun. Fun is like a vitamin, you need a little everyday. Right now I am working too much for fun to happen.

+ No more plastic. The plastic garbage liners will be gone from my curb. And so will some of the pickups, because we will be composting and have a worm factory/farm.

+ Have my morning coffee out in the backyard. We will have a covered seating area, really a must have with all the rain in the winter. It is never too cold to be out, just to wet.

+ More homemade. I have missed the simple joys of homemade. I have reclaimed homemade jam, so I will add to that short list in 2010.

+ More exercise. Use it or lose it, really is true for keeping active. I work in long term care, I know what lies ahead!!!!!

+ Lighten up. I can be so serious. Serious can be good, employers love serious. But I will redirect your attention, actually that would my my attention to the first thing on the list.

I would love to stay and chat with you all day, but right now, I have to go to work.

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello, tonight I will be searching for something new and delicious for Sunday Cafe. If you have any ideas, leave me a comment.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jam Sweet Loaf

I had spotted this gem over at Seasonal Ontario Food, and knew it was a recipe to keep and get around to making.

Ferdzy says that it is great for "failed" jam, but then goes on to explain that would include jam or marmalade that you have grown tired of or just don't like enough to eat as jam and marmalade. It goes together so quick and easy, and is frugal as well.

I have really enjoyed baking with the white whole wheat flour. Such a wonderful product. I could never find regular whole wheat fresh enough, it was always on the bitter side, even right when it came home from the store.

Jam Tea Loaf
350 oven
adapted from Seasonal Ontario Food

1 c jam
1/3 c oil
1 egg

2 1/2 c whole wheat flour, or 1/2 and 1/2 with white
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

3/4 c milk

Place flours, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, add jam, oil and the egg. Pour on 1/2 of the milk, mix well, add remaining milk, mix well but do not over beat.

Spoon into a prepared loaf pan. Bake 45 - 60 minutes. A standard loaf pan will most likely take the full hour, a thinner loaf pan like the one above will not take as long. Let cool 15 minutes and turn out to cool

Serve with butter or cream cheese and jam of course! And the leftovers toast up real nice.

As always thanks for taking a minute to stop and say hello. We appreciate your time and your wonderful comments

Recipe rating:  Oh yes! Will make again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday night brights

Homemade Mustard, the next adventure.

We keep an older used paint brush out in the garden area. It is great to have available to whisk off the outdoor chairs, before sitting down.

Sunday's participation shirt.

This one I bought, I was not a Chevron team member. I love the sassy look on this little pink car!

The little strawberry bed, has over grown it's boundaries. Obliviously the boundaries need to be enlarged. Next year I should have enough strawberries for our own fruit for jam.

Honey moved the big pots of herbs up to the concrete outside the slider. I think the house cat approves.

I am still trying to use a menu system. Not going well, but I will keep working at it. This week we will be eating from the freezer. Then on Wednesday Honey will cook dinner, He likes to make a meal on one of his days off. After last week however, I am grateful for the freezer being full.

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop by and say hello.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fig and Orange Marmalade

Fig and Orange Marmalade (2 day process)

2 organic oranges
1 c sugar
Chop oranges in a food processor until even and about 1/4 inch, empty out into a bowl, stir in the sugar. Cover and let set over night.

Next day:

31/2 - 4 c whole figs, 

Chop figs, again about 1/4 inch.
Combine figs and orange mixture, add 2 c sugar, 1/4 c brown sugar and 1/2 t nutmeg, along with the juice of 1 lemon. Bring to a boil, stir, lower heat to simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes. Remove lid, stir well. Continue to cook on low stirring as needed until mixture thickens and begins to hold it's shape. 45-60 minutes. Prepare jars lids and boiling water bath kettle.

Ladle the marmalade into 6 1/2 pt jars, cap and process for 10 minutes.

Honey was home for his dinner break, I asked him to taste this and he said, "tastes like Christmas". It is delicious and I think I will offer it next week for Sunday cafe along with some Gorgonzola cheese for a starter.

As always thanks for taking the time to stop and say hello.


Sunday in Portland

I will be picking up our DIL and granddaughter in about an hour, then we drive across the river to Portland, and catch a ride on MAX to the waterfront.

It is time to walk in the Komen event.

Granddaughter is a first timer for this event, she will be completely over whelmed with the day and go to sleep early this evening! After catching a meal at the Saturday Market, we will take MAX back to the car and come home.

I have figs in the refrigerator and oranges crushed with sugar waiting to be boiled up to a wonderful marmalade.

I also have mustard seed and Maker's Mark whiskey getting cozy in a covered container. I have decided to take a stroll through mustard making. Yesterday the lovely Jess and I went to Penzy's and I got more mustard seed.

Time now to get the last of the coffee in me, get my pack together and get going. I will see you back here in a few hours, with some marmalade to share.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday already!

I have been putting in 10+ hour days, tonight was almost 12 hours. Oh my gosh, the week is just slipping away. I am starved and have warmed up a can of soup. A can of soup!!!

This Saturday is Mid Month Matinee, and the lovely Jess is going to show Shanghai Noon. With that choice the potluck will be Asian, Hollywood style.

I am going to make this recipe for Cashew Chicken, but of course put my own little spin on it. I plan on making the recipe, but instead of cashew I will be offering 3 different nuts (almonds, cashews and peanuts) and call it Pick a nut chicken. That way everyone can choose a favorite nut or add as many kinds as they like.

Daughter in law will make baked egg rolls and of course we will have dessert.

And Jess, what are you making?

And then on Sunday is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Portland. I will participate again this year as a walker. This will be my 14 year. It is such a heart warming experience to be a part of this group. Granddaughter is joining us this year, I have no doubts that she will complete the 5K, that little girl is a go getter.

I am behind in my cooking schedule and those poor figs are still waiting to be made into jam. But I should be back to my regular schedule tomorrow. Until then,

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday night brights

I made the comment to Honey a few days ago, "I think the kitchen hutch would look good with red pulls" when I got home form work, guess what He had done? Thanks Honey.

We are having a difficult time eating dinner together, so I finally nagged enough that I got a copy of his work schedule. Sure enough we only see each other for dinner about twice a week.

Some of the weekend backyard cleanup, Honey picked it up with with the mower and is now in the compost can, hopefully becoming compost.

This is compost, It will be layered over the rhubarb and then some natural fertilizer over that for the winter. This was my first try at composting. It took about a year, I used a black garbage can that had the bottom cut off. It simply sat on the ground, there was not much circulation.

We are going to do things a bit different this time and see if we don't get the job done in less time.
Honey made this frame, with a wire sifter. The black can will now sit up off the ground. There should be some circulation, and we can always add a bit of moisture from the top if needed.

As the vegetation is composting down, it should fall through the wire grid. The deck blocks are spaced so that a flat shovel can scoop out the finished compost. As the composting action happens and the volume is reduced, we can keep adding to the top of the can.

Rosemary from the herb garden, hanging up to dry in the kitchen. It sure smells good.

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop by.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

It is a very quiet Sunday

The weather is changing here in Vancouver, and it shows in the garden.

The raspberries are dieing back and the ever bearing Stawberries are about done. I did see another Strawberry bloom this morning, but in another week or two, we will probably have a very chilly night, and that will be the final ending.

The berries are sending out runners! I have been pulling the new raspberry canes that have shot up out side of the marked off area, otherwise the backyard would simply be a bramble. And since I am totally unprepared to plant the additional Strawberry plants, I am pulling those runners as well.

The squash plant imploded, I pull that out last night. I have already have a large pile of debris for the recycle can, and there is more (so much more) to do.

The rhubarb is struggling. I am perplexed by this, most folks can grow it by neglect! My plan is to lay down a lot of mulch and natural fertilizer this fall and hope for better next year.

I do have herbs to gather and process. Garlic chives to slice and freeze. Rosemary to hang up to dry. The mint will come in and simply be beautiful, right now it has lovely purple flowers. Then I thought, maybe some mint jelly.

I picked up some beautiful fresh figs at Costco yesterday. Today I will get a couple of organic oranges and one lemon. I want to make some fig and citrus marmalade. I will get the citrus cut and mixed with sugar on Monday and make the marmalade on Tuesday when Honey works the night shift.

I also want to get a bottle of dark beer. I am going to try to make some homemade mustard with dark beer, a touch of honey and thyme. The mustard seeds will need to soak a couple of days, then I can make the mustard and let it rest until Christmas.

Dinner to cook, laundry and then get the mind ready to return to work on Monday. I wish weekends lasted longer!

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saucepan Salted Pecan Squares

This is a simple, tasty cookie to throw together. It takes 1 saucepan and the pan you bake in. So the clean up is easy.

Saucepan salted pecan squares
350 degree oven

1/4 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 t baking powder
1 t vanilla
3/4 c flour
1 c pecan halves
sea salt grinder

Place pecan halves in a  7X11 pan, place in oven and turn oven on to preheat, toast pecans for about 8-9 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Melt butter in medium size saucepan, stir in brown sugar, set aside to cool.

Remove pecans from oven, empty onto cutting board to begin cooling. Set pan aside to cool.

Chop coarsely, and reserve.

Stir remaining ingredients into egg mixture.

Beat until smooth.

Pour batter into the same 7X11 pan (I sprayed with pan spray), smooth into corners of the pan.

Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over top. Gently push them down into the batter. Carefully grind a small amount of sea salt over entire surface. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool, cut into 24 pieces.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)
As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop by.
I appreciate your time and your comments!

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Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage