January 7th – Puzzled

We are still in the deep freeze but there is supposed to be relief coming soon. In the meantime, we are doing what we can to keep warm. For Dan, that has meant shovelling snow and plugging in the car to insure he would make it to work today. For me it meant finishing my jigsaw puzzle yesterday. One down, one to go .

Done deal!

With this bone chilling weather that we have been blessed with, we decided this would be a good week for a big pot of homemade beef soup.

Homemade beef soup can be as simple as adding dried soup vegetables, noodles, and leftover cooked beef to store bought broth. It can be as basic as adding fresh vegetables, freshly cooked meat, and barley to store bought broth. This week we went all out and made everything from scratch – including the broth. πŸ˜‰

Dan made the broth on Wednesday. We had a couple of huge beef bones from Fellinger’s Meat Market which went into our stock pot with water, an assortment of unchopped vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, and a couple of dried hot peppers), a little salt and pepper, and one bay leaf. I don’t know if anyone has ever used a bay leaf for anything other than homemade soup – for which one bay leaf seems to be a critical ingredient. Once the pot was filled, the contents were brought to a boil and every speck of foam was scraped off of the top. The temperature was turned down and the broth was left to simmer for the better part of the day. Finally, Dan removed the bones and vegetables and we strained the broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth before it went out to our unheated garage for the night. Dan went out and brought it back in yesterday morning. Amazingly, it had not frozen solid, so I was able to remove the fat that had risen and solidified at the top of the broth. We poured half of the finished broth into containers and stored them in the freezer for future use.

Simmering the broth…

The broth we kept for our soup was poured into our Dutch oven and brought to a boil, I added about a cup of barley. While that simmered away, Dan chopped a variety of fresh vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, and cabbage) to add to the pot. Pretty much any vegetable works but we were a bit low on variety yesterday. We made up for it with quantity.

Cooking the vegetables…

While the vegetables cooked, I grilled a small sirloin steak for Dan to cube before adding to the pot.

Return to a boil, and simmer for another half hour…

And.. Supper is served…
  • Tips:
  • To make beef or chicken broth get beef bones or stewing hens from a local farmer or a good butcher shop.
  • To re-serve add a few different vegetables (turnips, tomatoes, mushrooms, daikon…) Add some orzo or miniature alphabet or star pasta… Whatever! It is all good and it creates an all new soup.

That is it for today. Take care and have a great day!

January 6th – Deep Freeze

Our weather isn’t getting any better today. Β  It is 32 below celsius and holding.Β  Dan was out shoveling the foot of snow that we got over the last couple of days.Β  I feel for him but every day is a day closer to spring! 🌷

Yesterday, we did some more after Christmas cleanup and took turns letting Kat in and out.Β  She keeps thinking she wants to go outside but changes her mind as soon as she gets there.

Winter sucks!

We ended up losing track of time while we were chasing down stray pine needles so our supper last night was a quick pizza that we whipped up together – with the help of the Pillsbury doughboy who provided the prepared pizza dough.

Dan chopped the ham, red onions, mushrooms and olives.Β  I strong-armed the crust out of the container, spread it out on the pan, brushed it with a light coating of sauce, and assembled the toppings that Dan had chopped, while adding a generous layer of pre-sliced pepperoni.

Which was followed by a thick layer of shredded cheese.

A few minutes of baking, followed by a couple of minutes under the broiler and tada! Supper is served.Β 

That is it for today! Hardly the most ambitious culinary experience, but it is already the sixth day of my Canadian meal plan and we have managed to avoid TV dinners and takeout so far. πŸ‘

Take care, keep warm, and have a great day! πŸ’ž

January 5th – Heating Things Up

Last night’s supper was more about the how than the what. Another small appliance that has proven it’s worth in our empty nest is our TFal Actifry air frier. I use it on a regular basis to make everything from homemade croutons to seasoned sunflower seeds to French fries to chicken wings. It is a nice little unit, simple to use and relatively easy to clean.

Lat night, I used our Actifry to cook chicken wings. I cook about a dozen pieces at a time. I just toss them in, cook for twenty five minutes and set aside while I cook the next batch. My favourite part is draining the chicken fat out of the fry basket after removing the wings. A couple of dozen wings and I have drained about a quarter cup of chicken fat that will not become a part of our diet. Once I cook a couple of batches, I return both to the Actifry with a couple of tablespoons of Frank’s Red Hot sauce and one tablespoon of Frank’s Red Xtra Hot sauce. Cook for a further five minutes and we have perfect hot wings every time.

Our second TFal Activity – I used the first one enough that I broke the cover hinge off of it. I’m not sure if that is a design flaw in this make or if it was just me.
We enjoyed our wings with Caesar salad topped with homemade croutons.
And a spicy Caesar featuring vodka that has been spiced up with a hot pepper grown in our garden last summer.
Supper is served! We do not usually have riblets but I wanted to try them in the Actifry as this brand isn’t working that well in our oven even using convection mode.
  • Air Fried Croutons
  • Cube one loaf of bread (fresh cheese bread works great)
  • Spread cubes on two cookie sheets and spray with extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkle with a mixture of grated Parmesan cheese and spices – seasoning salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning mix, garlic powder and onion powder is generally my go to.
  • Toss in the Actifry and cook for ten minutes. Spread on cookie sheets to cool.
  • Enjoy on salads or to top oven baked French onion soup

That’s it for today. Take care and have a great day!

January 4th – By the Book

The theme of my blog this month is ‘Canadian Meal Options’. To this end, I am sharing one meal or dish that Dan and I have each day. Many of the recipes I use come from ‘The New Purity Cookbook‘. It was new forty five years ago when I received my first copy of this book. Through twenty years of child rearing, this book was my kitchen bible for everything from homemade bread, to pancakes, to biscuits, deserts to main dishes. Some fifteen years ago, my daughter borrowed my kitchen bible and I floundered around my kitchen until my son Dan happened upon a copy at an antique shop. πŸ™„

My new ‘New Purity Cookbook’

I didn’t need my kitchen bible to prepare last night’s supper. We had a fairly basic meal of roast pork, oven baked potatoes, onions, broccoli, and gravy. It was all quite tasty and we have enough roast left over to make an encore later this week – served up as fried rice no doubt.

Roast Pork Supper

For desert we each had a gourmet chocolate. After desert we each had a couple of leftover Christmas cookies. Dan had peanut butter ones, while I opted for the ‘Spiced Ginger Mounds’ that I made using my Purity Cookbook.

I made countless cookies when my sons and daughter were children. I made chocolate cookies, coconut cookies, oatmeal cookies, cooked cookies, uncooked cookies, fancy cookies, and basic cookies. I made so many cookies. For whatever reason, these ginger cookies were always a favourite with all three of my kids. I was never that much of a fan, but they do get rid of the aftertaste of gourmet chocolates. πŸ‘

Spiced Ginger Mounds
Recipe from ‘The New Purity Cookbook’ (I substitute butter for shortening).

That is it for today! Take care and have great day! πŸ’ž

January 3rd – Back to Normal

It is nice to have the holidays behind us and get back to a semblance of normal day to day living. It is not that we did that much, and what we did was nice, but I just find it good to be back to what is life as we typically live it.

It has been three weeks tomorrow since my hernia surgery. I am feeling fine, especially with the medication that the surgeon gave me for my brutal heartburn. In fact, I am feeling so good that I think it is time for me to start my winter workout regime – nothing outrageous, but some stretching, moving, and lighter lifting. (I don’t plan to start lifting my own weight anytime soon.)

We have another week of frigid temperatures this week and then we are supposed to be back to single minus digits (celsius). That will be a welcome change! I might even be up for a bit of a hike to try out the new boots Dan got me for Christmas.

Now that we are back to our normal lives, we are getting back to our regular diet. Dan worked yesterday so I went for something relatively quick and light to have for supper.

I am not fond of most small appliances,or of having to clean them, but one that is worth its weight in gold is my small electric grille. I probably use it at least once a week in the winter and more often in the summer.

2 serving grille – economical and it wipes clean every time! We have had it for years.

Last night, I grilled a couple of spicy chicken breasts, made Spanish rice, and served with buttered and seasoned brussel sprouts.

Served on real plates!

Which was followed by a little dish of Rolo ice cream to cool things down.

Rolo ice cream always reminds me of grandson Rory’s first birthday. The first sound I heard him make and it was the sound of him choking on a frozen Rolo. 🀦
  • Spicy Chicken Breast
  • Pat 2 chicken breasts dry on paper towel
  • Season with seasoning salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning and a very little bit of Cayenne pepper
  • Grille to well done (flip half way through cooking time as top tends to get dry).
  • Spanish Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small cooking onion
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup chunky hot salsa
  • Gradually bring to a slow boil (Note: it does scorch easier than regular rice). Stir with a fork, cover, and cook at medium heat (simmer) for twenty minutes without removing cover
  • ** If you do burn the rice** – remove as much of the rice as possible, add water and a generous amount of baking soda to pot. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes or so. This will loosen all remaining rice. Remove burnt rice and repeat boiling water and baking soda. (You may want to add cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon at this point to get rid of the smell of burnt rice and salsa from your kitchen.)

That’s it for today. Take care and have a great day! πŸ’ž

January 2nd – Shepherd’s Pie

Here we are, cruising right into 2022. Dan and I took down the tree and packed away all of the Christmas decorations yesterday.

With Dan home for a few days and nights, it would seem our critters have retired to the basement to hibernate, or whatever it is that critters do when they feel unwelcome. At any rate there is no sign of them upstairs or down for the past couple of days. We still have a multitude of electronic and sticky traps about the place. So far the only thing to get stuck on any of the sticky traps was one small hairy dog.

It was Mom’s fault – she left that thing right where I could step on it. πŸ™„

After the packing up and housecleaning and laundry was done last night, we decided on a quick and easy basic comfort food supper. Shepherd’s Pie it was.

Browning meat & vegetables
Ready for the oven
And… Ready to serve!
  • (Working Mom’s) Shepherd’s Pie
  • Brown one pound ground beef. Add one red onion, one shallot, two small cloves of finely chopped garlic, half a red pepper and a few sliced mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add one can of Swiss Chalet beef gravy. Stir and simmer for a few minutes.
  • Make four servings of Idahoan mashed potatoes as per instructions on box. When ready, mix in one quarter of a cup of grated cheddar cheese.
  • Spread meat mixture in buttered casserole dish
  • Cover with one can of niblets corn
  • Cover with mashed potatoes. Top with bits of butter and a sprinkle of paprika.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour or until browned and bubbly

I used to make Shepherd’s pie with fresh mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, but this is quicker and easier. If you served them side by side, people would notice the difference, but honestly if this is the only option, most people will think it is real deal.

That is it for today. Take care and have a great day!

Today is the first day of the best years of my life. 🌟

January 1st – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  I assume everyone is ready to kick off a brand new year?  I read lately that everyday is the beginning of a new year in one’s life.  I like that concept.  There’s nothing better than a chance to start fresh – new hopes, new dreams, and new energy to push through to the next level.  That is my mission for this year – every day is New Year’s Day. πŸŽ‰

First off today, I want to send out a big congrats to son Dan,  daughter-in-law Amanda, Gabby, Lucas, and Cason who celebrated their first anniversary yesterday.   They all deserve the love and  happiness that they have found together.  Obviously I am biased, but they are the poster family for fresh starts, hopes, dreams, and boundless energy.   We are so proud of them all and so happy that they have built, and continue to build on their best lives.

For better & better πŸ’ž (Cason dialed back the energy for this shot πŸ˜‚)

In keeping with my theme of the month, this month’s theme comes from a suggestion by John of lvphotoblog.com . (If you do not follow John yet, stop by his site to see beautiful shots of the real Las Vegas and surrounding areas).

This month I am going to feature one meal or dish that Dan and I indulge in each day.  This could be a bit of a stretch for me but we’ve got this!  Stay tuned for everything you have ever wanted to know about the basic diet of a basic Canadian – everything from homemade soup, to beefdip,  to how to heat up the perfect tv dinner!  We’ve got you covered.

Day one of our culinary adventure starts with our laid back New Year’s Eve menu. 

Pickles, raw vegetables, and shrimp ring.
Pillsbury crescent rolls – rolled up with thin sliced ham, Swiss and Gouda cheese.
The pièce de résistance of our repast was definitely the crab stuffed portabella mushroom caps.

Dan imbibed in a couple of Molson Canadian beers with clamato juice while I enjoyed a glass of Canadian Pelee Island Merlot.

  • To create your own perfect crab stuffed portabella mushrooms….
  • Clean 4 large portabella mushroom caps, removing the stems and much of the gills
  • Mix 4 oz of cream cheese, 4 oz of sour cream, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Add 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • Add finely chopped fresh garlic, green onions, and jalapenos
  • Add finely chopped mushroom stems
  • Add one small can (drained and broken up) crab meat
  • Lightly season with salt and pepper
  • Fill mushroom caps and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of panko crumbs mixed with 1 tsp. butter
  • Bake @ 375 degrees F for 30 minutes and broil @ 425 degrees F until browned
  • As with any of the dishes we make – adjust to suit your own taste!

That is it for today. Take care, eat well, and have a great day!