Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homemade Butter

So in the interests of trying something new with food I decided to make butter yesterday.
Ev has done it a few times with her girls and liked the result.
I had a small carton of whipped cream which I poured into a mason jar.
I started shaking the jar. And shaking, shaking some more, resting and then shaking again.
I was getting tired.
All of a sudden something began to happen!
I was thrilled! I had made whipped cream and butter was the next stage!
Whoo Hoo!
The only problem was, the whip cream wasn't shaking around in the jar because it was too thick!
For crying out loud!
Both my elbows were sore. (I have no idea why. . .)
I decided to give it up, so I made chocolate pudding to go with my whipped cream and we all enjoyed an unexpected dessert.
I may have to do a little research on butter making. . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January Is Reading Month

You know how university students get reading week?

Well I've decided to declare January reading month.

I've spent the last two weeks reading pretty much non stop.

I've been reading everything I can about our food system like Stuffed and Starved, In Defense of Food, A Nation of Farmers, along with books about gardening in small spaces and books on permaculture.

I've skimmed numerous cookbooks looking for new ideas for dinner and countless magazines hoping for new bread recipes and organic growing techniques.

My brain is whirling!!

My brain needs a break!

The rest of the month is going to be all about fiction. . . mysteries, suspense, christian novels and some general fiction. There will be a bit of bread and cookie baking mixed in. (After all, I'm going to need something good to eat while I drink tea and read books! I'm thinking of trying donuts as well. Yum!!)

If you don't hear from me for the next few weeks or so you'll know where I'll be. . .

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I have been trying very hard to use up all the food in my refrigerator rather than allowing science experiments to develop.

I had what I call an 'asthma' day today. Asthma days find me breathless after walking down the stairs and running back up them often has me coughing and breathless. A day like this has no trigger that I can see, although, I am starting to think that fluctuating hormones might be the culprit.

You're probably wondering what an 'asthma' day has to do with leftovers!

Well, let's face it, supper has to happen even when I find myself spending the day on the couch. (the silver lining is a guilt free day with a good book!)

Looking in the fridge this afternoon, I noticed a large chunk of pepperoni that was fast approaching it's expiry date. I needed a way to turn that into a quick and easy hot meal.

Pizza made with a baking powder crust was the answer! A yeast crust is lovely, but this quick crust can be made at a moments notice and all kinds of add in spices, herbs or cheese can make it a little different each time. Pizza's a great way to use up leftovers, bits of cheese, peppers, half an onion, leftover chicken. . .
The possibilities are endless!
It's also great for feeding teen aged boys after a rousing game of hockey on an outdoor rink. . .

Here's the recipe for the pizza 'dough' which I got from my mother-in-law. With ten kids to feed it sure came in handy!

Pizza dough:

2 cups flour

3tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1cup milk
1/3 cup oil

I often add lots of freshly ground pepper, onion powder (you could use real diced onion) and Parmesan or Asiago cheese.

Stir mixture until a ball forms. Knead a few times then place on pan and roll out. (one recipe makes enough for a thickish crust when you use a pizza pan. If you use a cookie sheet it will be a little thinner.) It can easily be doubled.

Add toppings of your choice and bake at 425 degrees F for 15- 20 minutes.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dear Ev. . .

Dear Ev,

Remember while we were planting our bulbs today I told you I was moving to the country no matter what?

How I told you that I didn't know how, or when, but that I would do what it took to get out of the city?

Remember how you said that SPIN was probably a great way to go if I wanted to have more space to garden in if I lived in the city and I said (or more accurately, whined) "But I don't want to do it that way! I want out! I'm moving to the country!"

I went online later this afternoon and found out just how much it would cost to live within 45 minutes of any part of the city.

I always forget that that has been what has held me back. I've never been willing to pay what it takes to make the move!

My city house will be payed off before Henry turns 65. If we move to the country he may never be able to retire. I may never be able to retire!

So I'm cured. For now. Should this madness pop up again (and it will) just show me the real estate listings and their astronomical prices and the madness will pass quickly.

It looks like I will be your pesky neighbour and trusty chicken sitter for years to come!


Monday, January 4, 2010

A Peaceful Day

I had a peaceful day today.

It was only-15C this morning which made the first day back on the bus fairly easy.

I got home, started my bread dough and took Jada for a walk through the park.

I also spent a rather long time on the phone with a woman offering space to grow as large a garden as I wanted at no charge and for as long as I would like. She and her family are moving to a large (110 acres) acreage and want to offer garden space to anyone who hasn't got enough space of their own. Unfortunately she's about an hour out of town making it rather difficult for that to work.

A good garden needs plenty of attention.

I'll have to keep searching for a solution to my lack of space. . .

I spent part of the afternoon making a wheat bag for Holly who wasn't feeling well today and found the warmth of it comforting.

I had made one for mom at Christmas, although her bag was longer and sewn down the middle as she likes it to warm her feet.

While making hers, I spilt a whole lot of wheat on the ground so I spent a fair bit time today sifting out dog hair, crumbs and bits candy from it so I could use it in Holly's bag.

I like how this one turned out although if I had had more wheat I would have filled it fuller.

I peeled potatoes to make potato soup for supper to go along with my brown bread, read a good book while drinking a cup of tea and headed back to school.

All in all, a lovely winter day. . .

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

As you can see I have given my blog a face lift.
I felt it only fitting that the blog have a new look as we head into a new year.

I am really looking forward to the new year because Ev and I have many new things we hope to learn this year. Some together and others on our own.

Ev tried homemade mozzarella a few weeks back and I came over just in time to help knead the hot cheese curds.
After a lot of kneading, the cheese somewhat resembled mozzarella and although it was not as creamy as store bought, I liked the taste better. Jesse tried some after it had been in the fridge for a while and he didn't like the texture at all! He does however want to help out the next time we try.

The next project is to make a variety of sausages using the scraps from the deer left over after Butchering Day. Well in truth, Butchering Day was more like two and a half days. It takes a lot longer if your are teaching new butchers as you work!
We are left with about 45 pounds to which we will need to add another 30% pork fat.
Henry's dad has both a meat grinder as well as a smoker so we hope to give jerky a whirl as well.
Seed catalogues have arrived and I've been drooling, I mean, studying them intently trying to decide how I might squeeze in more strawberries as well as some asparagus. ( for those of you who don't know, after you have harvested the asparagus the plant puts out feathery thin 'branches' that grow up to five feet high!)

Then of course there are the hardy green grapes I've just discovered as well as two apple trees I would love to grow.( They are dwarfs so I'm sure there must be someway to cram them in too!)

More crocheting and knitting are on the list and I'm looking forward to learning how to double crochet, as right now I only know one stitch! (That's all you need to make a scarf though and I've just finished my third one.) While Ev and her family were visiting her parents over the holiday her mom taught her how to knit cables! I'm rather jealous as I'm still knitting and pearling!

Working with raw wool (fleece straight of the sheep) is another possibility this year.
My primary focus for this year however will be food.
I would like to learn how to feed our family with food that hasn't been processed within an inch of it's life or traveled around the world to get to my plate . (And don't get me started on packaging, pesticides and GMO'S!)

This will involve growing what I can at home (and maybe some of the sprawly stuff at J and R's cabin), buying at farmer's markets as well as straight from the farmers.

Last year we were able to buy grass fed beef and 80 pounds of potatoes this way. (The potatoes were only $10!)

I made bread yesterday using some of the wheat that R had ground from local wheat. Very nice although Henry found the finished loaf too fluffy, so I'll have to play around with that a bit.

I have to admit I'm nervous about cooking everything from scratch as it means learning how to cook in a whole new way.

Tam, do you think you could lend me Chef Gary every so often???
If any of you have good recipes that might work I'd sure appreciate it if you'd share!

I'll leave you with a few holiday memories. . .

Bus drivers get spoiled sometimes!

It's possible that I may have taken the 'how low can you go' thing with the thermostant a bit too far!

I'm afraid I've had to add word verification in the comment area for now as I'm getting a lot of spam comments all of a sudden. Hopefully I won't have to do this for too long. . .

© A Life of Whimsey