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 ! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bread Tabs ..... what to do with them ??

I'm sure glad that I've saved those bread tabs - you know .... the ones that are closing the store bought loaf of bread.   I didn't know why at first and then saw this idea on Pinterest.

I have a drawer full of various cords for camera, work laptop, etc.   Labelling each of these cords with the bread tabs has sure has made my life a little easier.   I've also used them for identifying all those cords at the back of the TV too.   They are also very useful for resealing frozen veggie bags once the bag has been cut open.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

On My Needles ....

This little gem of a sweater was fun to make with it's faux cables on the cuffs and down the front of the sweater. There were no need to make button holes as the faux cables naturally had them in the right place.

The sweater pattern comes from Mary Maxim with a matching hat and was knit in a washable acrylic yarn.  

You can find the pattern and kit here


Friday, February 14, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Oh, how I missed being out on the trails this winter.   

After the ice storm the conservation areas and trails were closed due to damage done and trails deemed unsafe. 

The main Bruce Trail through our area - Halton Hills is now open.  Work crews have been busy clearing the trails so that they are passable again. 

This weekend, I lead my first hike since Christmas.  I am a volunteer Hike Leader.   
It felt so good to be outdoors again.  I enjoy the winter.  I just don't enjoy driving in it anymore.

The air was fresh and crisp.  The temperature was cold.  It was snowing.  We have had a lot of snow and in some spots we were breaking trail.    

There was no sound in the woods, accept for the occasional chirp of a bird and the wind through the trees.

I do my best thinking out on the trails.  
Sometimes don't think about much at all - which is a break from the stresses of life - where you can clear your mind for a while and truly enjoy what nature has to offer.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Soup of the Week #4 - Pea Soup

This pea soup recipe comes from the original Moosewood cookbook by Mollie Katzen.  It's called "Best Split Pea Soup" - and it is the best!

Although the Moosewood recipe is a vegetarian one, I adapted it by using stock I made with a ham bone.

Each time I make pea soup it is a bit different depending what vegetables I have on hand.  This time added parsnips and turnip.  The soup turned out delicious and creamy (without dairy).

This soup needs to simmer a long time - so give yourself a few hours at least to make.  It will be worth the time.

Simmer 3 cups of split peas in 5 cups of water or stock with 1 bay leaf.  Recipe also called for 2 tsp of salt, but I omitted this as I used ham bone stock, which is salty enough.

Next I added a cup of chopped onion, 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 cup of chopped celery, 2 cups of sliced carrots, 1 cup of sliced parsnips and 1 small rutabaga (turnip), cut up in small pieces, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, 1/4 tsp of dried thyme, a couple of drops of sesame oil and 3 tbsp of vinegar.   Simmer until vegetables are tender.

Garnish with parsley

Yum !


Friday, February 7, 2014

A Visitor

We had a visitor at our office last week.   The picture was taken from our office window.   Our office is located beside the busiest highway that runs through Toronto - The 401.

The coyote seem oblivious to the traffic on the other side of the fence.

Although we are told that coyotes have been around us for many years, it is only in the last couple of years that I have been seeing alot of them.   I see them on my way to work in the morning and on my way home, running across the farmer's fields.  I have seen them as well in the distance while out hiking.   This time of year, sightings are more frequent as their source of food is limited and they are hungry.

The housing developments have been encroaching into their space.

Some things I have learned about Coyotes
taken from the following websites:
Living with Coyotes - Government of Ontario
Hinterland Who's Who - Coyote

NEVER feed coyotes.  Feeding causes aggression to humans.   Store garbage indoors until collection day.  Secure your compost bins with locking lids. Feed your pets indoors.   Avoid walking in areas alone with coyotes.  Avoid walking at dusk, dawn or after dark and carry protection if you do, such as personal alarm, umbrella, flash light, cell phone.  Never leave young children unattended.

If you do encounter a coyote, do not turn your back or run.   Like dogs, they will chase if you run.   Clap, yell, shout loudly, make startling movements. Startle them by opening the umbrella, using a flaihlight or activate an audible alarm.

Coyotes have well developed senses - hearing and smell.  They are excellent runners and capable of reaching 64 km an hour.  They adjust their hunting methods depending on the prey.

Coyotes typically prey on small animals ie rabbits and rodents and have been known to also prey on calves and sheep.   It is intelligent and playful, like many domestic dogs, but it is also a predator with a reputation for killing small farm animals.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 Knitting Calendar

Another snow day!   What do you do when the weather outside is frightful ?  ]

Our hiking season has put on hold due to the unsafe trail conditions - broken branches high in the trees waiting to fall with a bit of wind.

What better to do .... knit by the fire of course!   I received this fun knitting calendar for Christmas.    The calendar has over 100 patterns - a new one every couple of days to try.  The calendar offers patterns for various skill levels and yarn at every price point.  There are afghan, hats and scarves, toys, baby items and more.   

I'm getting a head start on knitting gifts for birthdays and Christmas this year.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winter ....

View from my front window
We've had quite the winter so far.  Ice Storms, freezing rain, frigid temperatures dropping to -38C and lots of snow !   Yesterday we got it with another storm.  Shoveled the driveway three times yesterday and once again this morning.  The snow banks in our driveway are over my shoulders now and having difficulty shoveling the snow over the banks. 

The snow is beautiful, as long as you don't have to shovel it or drive in it ! 

Can safely say I am tired of shoveling.

Having all this snow is a good thing when it comes to our trees, grass and gardens.  We've had a number years of low precipitation and this is much needed to restore the water tables. 

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