Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Breakfast

When time permits I like to make a big breakfast.  
DD#1 got me onto this idea. Good and hearty !

Stir-fry up vegetables on hand.  I used brussell sprouts, kale, mushrooms, onions, garlic and mushrooms.  I like lots of greens. 

Fry up or poach an egg or two and place over top off cooked bed of greens.  Sprinkle grated fresh beets, radish, chopped fresh cilantro or other vegetables you prefer.  

Radish and beets

Pour over some homemade tahini dressing. 
We love the Whitewater Cooks dressing from Whitewater Cooks.

Enjoy !

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seed Planting Experiment

I like to start my own seeds indoors for planting later in the spring and have had good success.

In my house little goes to waste and we try to re-purpose as much as we can. This year I had heard about using toilet paper rolls for seed pots and thought great idea .. I'll give this a try. 

I planted some seeds in re-used pots that I had purchased some plants from the nursery and others were planted in the toilet paper rolls.  Both were planted on the same day using the same earth, watered with same water (no fertilizers etc added)  and sat at the same window getting the same sun exposure.  After one month - look and see the difference in plant growth.   One looks healthy and green and the other is stunted, hardly grown at all, and colour is off.   There must be something in the recycled paper used in toilet paper rolls.   My daughter had similar experience using recycled paper egg cartons.   

Our town also offers free compost.  The compost is from all the green matter picked up on garbage days from the "green bins" that people put out.   Couple of years ago, we got a trailer load and used in our gardens.  One raised vegetable bed got the city compost, the other my own compost.   In the raised bed with city compost, very little grew and if they did, were stunted and sickly looking.  Others I have talked to who also got city compost said they had the same experience and would not use the city compost again.  

Makes you really wonder....   Lessons learned ....   !!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Signs of Spring

The snow is finally melting here.  It's been a long winter, compared to the last several years.  Some grass is starting to show.  The last couple of days have been in the single digits and tomorrow's prediction is 17C. 

 We had alot of tree damage from the ice storm in January.   
Lots of spring clean up around the yard this year
Most of this will be chipped up for mulch in the garden and 
anything too big for our small chipper will be cut up for firewood 
for next winter

Two of the neighbour's trees fell into our yard from the storm, which will need to come down.
Tomatoe plants started as well as some poppy seeds saved from previous years
More tomato plants sprouting
Re-growing celery.   Roots have sprouted and now ready to transplant into soil for later planting outside
Found some "blue" mason jars !   My favourite colour !
Re-growing nappa cabbage.  For later planting outdoors - probably not till later in May after last frost.

Rhubarb is showing signs of pushing through the ground

Garlic is also starting show
The last of the Kale from last year - survived our Canadian winter.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

No Bread... now what ....

I've given up bread.... gluten bread anyway.   The wheat/gluten substitutes are not the same and find them quite heavy/dense, crumbly and expensive.

So now what to use as a bread sandwich replacement ?

Collard greens ....

The leaf is large enough to hold a sandwich filling, roll and make a wrap.  The greens are sturdy  yet bendable enough so they don't snap and break apart and go soggy, unlike some lettuces. 

Collards are low in calories, have a good source of vitamin C, fiber and contain multiple nutrients and anti cancer properties.  They are also high in vitamin K, so those who are on blood thinners should eat in moderation. 

The filling for my sandwich in the picture is made with home grown sprouts, homemade hummus, grated carrot and radish.   Yum !

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Spring Sweater

This little spring sweater is finished.  

And another one in the works.....

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nordic Sweater Knitting

It's been years since I knitted Nordic style sweaters.   They were very popular in the 1980's.   This little sweater was knit with a bulk style acrylic yarn in a size 4.  I did this in an acrylic for easy washing for young children.   It knitted up quite quickly and was fun working with the various colours.   

I found the pattern at our local thrift store along with enough wool to make two of these sweaters in small sizes.    The pattern comes from an old Beehive "Nordic Knits" pattern book #440.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hiking Silver Creek Conservation Area

It was a beautiful day today for a hike.  The temperature started off cold (-18C) and the wind was bitter. However, after we were going for a while we warmed up and by noon the temperature had risen to about -11C. 

Lots of evidence of little creatures
Trail was well used and packed.   If you stepped off the trail you would sink a couple of feet into the snow
My new amazing icers
The spikes on these are quite nasty looking, however, they kept me on my feet - no slipping even on ice.

Park bench  - the snow is so deep only the top of the bench is showing.
Lots of damage to trees from the ice storm just before Christmas.  Lots of trail maintenance work to do come Spring.
Lunch stop on the bridge.   There were spots where the ice and snow is melting and the streams are running

Friday, March 7, 2014

Learning to Cook Gluten Free

I am trying an experiment by going gluten free to see if there is any difference to my health.   There has been so much hype in the media these days of the affects of gluten related diseases and intolerances.   We also have a couple members of our family now that for health reasons are on strict gluten free diets.  Learning to cook and bake gluten free is becoming more important - especially when they come over for a meal.

So far it's been a couple of week without gluten and it hasn't been too difficult.  Cooking without gluten has been fairly easy since I am used to cooking most of our meals from scratch.   Our meals are fairly simple without fancy sauces or gravy that require thickening with flour.  I don't thicken soups with flour either.   I rarely ever buy pre-made food/frozen foods so that hasn't been an issue either for us.  And I as a rule don't eat much bread.  But once in a while a sandwich is really nice.   Eating out or on the run can be problematic.  It's hard to find a restaurant that serves food without gluten.

The difficult part has been baking.  Baking without wheat flour has been challenging.  How to make muffins or cookies, pie or a cake that doesn't turn out to be like a brick or not worth eating.   I'm not a big dessert eater, but once in a while I like a treat.  Gluten free baking is different from the way I have baked for my whole life.  It's certainly a mind shift - when it comes to baking with different flours and the taste / texture is different.  Finding all the right gluten-free flours locally hasn't been easy either without spending a lot of money.   The bulk food stores carry a lot of gluten free products, but you have to be careful as there is no guarantee with cross-contamination of items at these stores that are not packaged individually.  If you are celiac it is very important there is no cross contamination of any kind.  

I am enjoying trying out new recipes from the two books by Alissa Segersten/Tam Malterre;  The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals.  Everyone of the recipes tried so far have been an success.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Anticipation

Oh the anticipation.... which every knitter knows.

When you imagine your next project...
When you search for the perfect yarn.....
When you feel the texture of your wool....
The excitement begins.....

It takes discipline to finish your current project before starting the new one !

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Date and Nut Loaf - Family Favourite

This recipe was handed down to me by my grandmother.  This loaf keeps well and freezes well too.

A friend posted this recipe in her recipe column she wrote for her local newspaper - "The Elora Sentinel" and "Elmira Independent".

Date and Nut Loaf

Cut small:
1/2 lb dates
Sprinkle with
2 (level) tsps baking soda.
1 cup boiling water
1 cup white sugar
When cool, add: 
1 egg, unbeaten
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt.

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1-1/4 hours at 300-325 F.
Makes 1 loaf

Friday, February 21, 2014

Vegetarian Curry

When the weather isn't cooperating for being outdoors, I tend to spend more time in the kitchen.

I'm really enjoying and trying out new recipes, especially ones from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.  Every recipe I have tried so far is delicious !

This vegetarian curry is especially good comfort food !

I did make a couple of small changes with what I had on hand.

Curried Garbanzo Bean and Squash Stew

Over medium heat add tbsp of coconut oil.  Add 1 chopped onion and 4 cloves chopped garlic. Saute until soft.

Add following spices:
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne
1 tsp of salt 

Next add squash.   Recipe called for 2 delicata squash, peeled seeded and cut into chunks.  I used butternut squash, which I had already roasted in the oven and cut up into chunks.   Added 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, 4 cups of cauliflower, a cup of chopped kale, 1/2 cup of green peas, 1 14 oz can of chick peas, with the liquid from the chick peas.  I also added 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger,

Simmer until vegetables are cooked to desired tenderness.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter Urban Homestead Update

A couple of years ago I ran a series on urban homesteading and what it means to me.    I have learned a lot over the years, by reading and learning from others.  I would have loved to take a course or two on permaculture and landscape design, but live a little far from any community college to go during the evenings..  On-line courses would be the next best when time permits. 

We are in the middle of winter here in Ontario, Canada.   My garden sits under a couple feet of snow and will be for another month or two.  There is more snow in the forecast.

So, what does an urban homesteader do in the middle of winter when their gardens are covered ?

Lots ......  

I spend more time in the kitchen, trying out recipes; making lots of different soups. 
This one I call Stone Soup.  The stock was started from a bag of vegetable cuttings,
simmered, then strained.   Next I use up vegetables I have on hand.  This time round I used
carrots, celery, onions, green beans, cabbage, collard greens, garlic and spices.  
There are beans soaking and waiting to be cooked to later add to a soup.  

Saving and sorting through my seeds that I have saved, and looking through seed catalogues.  
Reading through my gardening journal on what worked last year and what didn't.
Dreaming about what I want to grow this year and new ideas I want to try.   
Since the ice storm we have lost many branches in our trees so there will be more 
sun in our back yard.  Perhaps tomatoes will fare better this year.   
It won't be long and I'll be starting some seeds indoors for spring planting.

Growing my own sprouts - "my indoor garden" - above is mustard, arugula and red clover.  
Great to use in sandwiches instead of lettuce and very nutritious.  
Out of season vegetables are very expensive this time of year.  
These sprouts above were started just 4 days ago and already are about 1-1/2 inches tall. 

Celery on my window sill - see post on "Re-growing Food"
Soon this will sprout roots and new stalks.  
I'll then transplant into earth for planting in my garden.

 Reading lots of books from the library on gardening.  This year I want to start a 
vegetable garden in the front yard.  Since I leave in suburbia it needs to have curb appeal 
so the neighbours/Town don't complain.   Their are lots of good books out on 
designing a front yard vegetable garden. 

This is another soup on the stove today.   This one is called "Super Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup"
The recipe can be found over at Nourishing Meals website.
There are so many that are sick at the office I thought this would be a good soup to 
have on hand.   The aroma while cooking is divine - lemon grass, ginger, garlic....yum ! 

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