Sunday, 29 July 2012

Yum Saskatoons!


My man and I had a wonderful afternoon today at the Kingsland Farmer's Market. We picked up quite a nice haul including a fantastic saskatoon honey mead made by Fallentimber Meadery, located just outside of Calgary. It has the light sweetness from the honey but the saskatoons give it a very nice fruity body. Very delicious! It was so good in fact that both Trev and myself each had to purchase a bottle. 

Also in stock were some nice fresh saskatoon berries! I haven't had many of these at all since we moved away from Saskatchewan as children so I was very excited to see that they had a few litres left in stock! 

When we were little we would go to the fields and come back with a few bowls filled with berries with which my mother would make some delicious saskatoon tarts for us. For those of you who have never had a saskatoon berry, (I think they are mostly native to Canada and northern USA) these berries look like smaller blueberries but have a sharper, stronger and richer taste. Very nice. 

We had a bush in our backyard in Calgary but I never seemed to be able to get the berries in time. Whenever i would take my bowl out, the birds had eaten them all. In fact one year I was waiting patiently for the day they turned ripe. Every day i would go out and check to see if they were purple yet. The day they turned, I rushed out with my bowl in hand and those little piglets had somehow eaten every single berry off the bush! 

Anyway, following tradition, I have whipped up a batch of tarts. I got the recipe from the Saskatoon Harvesters website.  http://www.saskatoonharvesters.com/Recipes.page I didn't have sour cream so I have substituted heavy plain yogurt instead. We will see how the recipe goes. Here it is for you:

Saskatoon Tarts
1 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream (I used yogurt)
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat ingredients until sugar dissolves. Make sure you don't burn it. Add 2 cups of berries. Pour into tart shells. Bake 30 min at 350 deg. F. Yield 24 tarts. Eat and enjoy!

My haul from the market

The mead and the berries can be seen in the back. My lovely yellow tomatoes and orange beets in front. Yum!

Add the sugar and four to the pan.

Add the lemon juice

Add yogurt or sour cream

Stir until sugar dissolves

Add berries and take off burner

Put into tart shells and cook

Yum saskatoon berry tarts!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Hashbrowns

Hello everyone, I was originally going to post this with the previous entry but as that last one's formatting was giving me some grief, I will post it separate. 

Usually for our monthly group we make potluck to share. So that morning I whipped up some hash browns for my potluck recipe. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the finished product but here it the recipe. These are easy to make and a huge hit!!

Hash browns

4-5 potatoes
1 tbsp oil
salt, pepper to taste
fresh herbs or dried herbs to taste
1 onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic minced

Wash potatoes and cut up in cubes. I like my cubes smaller (about 1-1.5cm squares) as they cook faster but you can have them larger or smaller if you need. I keep the skin on but if you like it off you can. The skin has most of the nutrients so it seems wasteful to remove it. 

Put potatoes, onions and garlic in a dish with some water and microwave for about 10 min. You can also boil the potatoes on the stove instead but make sure they don't get mushy. You want them to be a little bit cooked but still firm. Drain the water out.

Put the oil in the pan and add the potatoes mix into the pan. Cook them for about 20 minutes or more till they start to brown on the sides. Add the seasonings you would like to add. I added some of my fresh dill, oregano, rosemary and sage to mine and they were delish! 

Eat and enjoy. 

It's Paper Time!


This week I decided to show my women's group at work how to make paper. We talked about how to reduce your carbon footprint then about different ways to for you and your children to learn about recycling. I thought it went very successfully so I have posted the process for you.

Making Paper

1. Rip up old sheets and pieces of paper into smaller bits. I like them to be about 1"/2.5cm square. Put these pieces in a container and fill container with water. Soak for a few days. If it is light paper like tissue or newsprint it only needs about 1-2 days, medium thickness computer paper is about 3-4 days, Thick paper like poster board needs 4-6 days. Try and use paper with not too much ink on it or your paper will look muddy. For example, newspapers have way too much ink on them so try and mix them with ink less paper instead of making a sheet with just newsprint. 

2. Make a frame. If you have an old wood frame around the house or you find one at a garage sale this works nicely. I didn't have any of these so instead I made some frames from random pieces of styrofoam around the house that I glued together and some of them out of strips of cardboard that i covered in duct tape to make them waterproof. 

Cutting up foam to make a frame

My huge box of glue! Yay! 
Cutting cardboard in strips for the frames 
My finished frames. I will now cover the cardboard ones with duct tape.

3. Cut a piece of screening to the same size at your frame and hot glue/staple/duct tape it on.
One of the finished frames


4. After the paper has been soaking for a few days, put it in a blender with LOTS of water. If you put too much paper and not enough water you will cause stress on your blender. Blend till larger pieces are pulpy. There can be different sizes of paper in your pulp mix as it will make your page look interesting. 





5. Pour the pulp into a basin. Your basin should be flat bottomed and able to comfortably fit your screen inside it. A kitchen sink will work in a pinch but clean up is a lot more difficult as you do not want to many paper bits down the drain. They will clog it. I discovered that the clear plastic covers that come with food platters from the grocery store work very nicely! 


6. Add other items if you would like to make your paper unique. (ex. Food colouring, string, glitter, yarn, plant bits, flower petals, etc.)



7. Dip your frame. Allow the pulp to cover the frame evenly. Pull it out of the water. Take a piece of J cloth and lay it over the top of the mess. Press the water out of the pulp on the screen. When most of the water is out, flip it over onto a towel or stack of newspaper and sponge off the water from the top. (the frame side)



8. Carefully pull the frame off the paper. Yay! now you have one sheet! Make another one now.



9. The J cloths will absorb water from the paper sheets so while they are damp you can stack them on top of each other. Make sure there is a J cloth in between each sheet or they will stick in a huge mess. When you are done making the lot, separate the sheets/cloths and lay flat or hang to dry. The paper will take a day or two to dry. *Do not dry the paper in a stack or it will take you until next christmas for it to be ready!*


10. Clean up: When you are done, put one of your screens in the sink. Pour your leftover liquid/pulp out of the basin into the screen. The water will drain out leaving the leftover pulp. Save this pulp for another time or place it in the garbage/recycle. DO NOT just pour the solution down your drain. The pulp will make a mess of your pipes if you do and possibly clog. Leftover wet pulp will keep in a ziplock for a few days, and even longer in your fridge. If you let it dry then it will keep forever, just break it apart and soak it again the next time you want to use it. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Is this thumb green??

I have always had a fascination with plants. The fact that such a wonderful thing can erupt from a tiny seed with just a bit of water to stimulate it, amazes me. My family and I have never really considered ourselves avid gardeners or "green thumbs." For the longest time I have considered my thumb any other shade except green as the only things that seem to grow pretty successfully are the potatoes and garlic in my fridge...and sometimes the cheese >_<. In fact I am pretty sure that I have cultivated some excellent strains of Penicillum (the mold that creates penicillin) over the years. I removed a pretty furry specimen the other day that I am sure could have cured many infections worldwide. 

When I was younger, some plants did ok in our house but they always seemed to be struggling. We have never been able to figure out how to make our favourite plants bloom again. (If anyone knows a guaranteed way to make orchids grow, let me know.) Struggling plants sometimes got placed outside on the deck by my father who insisted that they just needed some "fresh air." Of course these poor things always turned into brown, crispy twigs shortly after. 

This year, determined to learn how to become a green thumb I decided to teach myself how to be a gardener. Living in a downtown apartment with no balcony doesn't give me too many options, but i decided to try anyway. 

The advent of the internet and various search engines has been a miraculous thing. All one needs to do now a days if they are trying to learn a new skill or hobby is to look it up and immediately the answers are at their fingertips. Gone are the days when we needed to rely on friends, family or books for information. 

So armed with a few packets of seeds, some dirt, my computer, and some old yogurt or milk containers, I began my mission. I started off planting some tomatoes, strawberries and a few herbs. The herbs didn't do well from seed but the others are thriving. (The ones I have pictured are pre-started sprouts) After a few trials and errors, overwatering mishaps and occasional droughts, I now have a nice little window garden. I even just got my first strawberry the other day. I ate it and it was delicious! I think if this goes well I might just have to try a few more plants like maybe lettuce perhaps?

Here are some of the pictures of my window garden. I will keep you posted with the developments. 

p.s. I have since upgraded the containers as the plants were getting too large. Yogurt containers worked wonderfully but make sure that you poke some drainage holes in the base. I crumbled chunks of styrofoam in the bottom to ensure proper drainage as well. I also used the lids as dishes underneath. It worked out quite nicely. :)

Tomatoes

Tomatoes and some herbs

Tomatoes and herbs

Sage and Oregano

My first strawberry!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Babies and Blankets

Well there is one thing for certain working in an agency of 140 women; (Besides the intense sugar and chocolate cravings at around 2:30pm everyday) there is ALWAYS someone pregnant at any given moment in time. 

Recently two of my close co-workers were having new little ones come into their families. So in a crochet madness of yarn and hooks, I managed to whip up two very adorable baby blankets for them. I must admit I am quite pleased with the results. One was a Chevron pattern and the other was a Bavarian crochet pattern. 

I have posted the images and pattern's below for you to try. 

Chevron Blanket- I only did 80 rows 



Easy Chevron Baby Blanket

sc= single crochet
ch= chain
J crochet hook and about 6-9 balls of yarn. (you may end up using 1.5 balls of the colours you doubled up) 



Row 1-
Chain 134

Row 2-10
skip first ch, sc 6, *sc 3 in same chain, sc 7, skip 2, sc 7*, repeat ** till the last 8 chains. sc 3 in same chain, sc 6, don't crochet in last chain but instead chain 1. (This method of sc 3 in the same stitch will cause the peaks and the method of skipping two will cause the valley's)

Change colours after 10 rows. Pattern requires a total of 90 rows or 9 colour changes of 10 rows each. (I only did 80 rows since I ran out of time)
Closeup of the Chevron Blanket


Note: I crocheted the whole pattern in the back stitch to give it that ribbed effect. 


To change colours: when about 8 stitches away from end of row, lay new colour on top and weave it in as you finnish row. When it comes time to turn the corner, start using the new colour and then weave the old colour's tail into the first few stitches then cut off. 


















Bavarian Crochet Baby Blanket

J crochet hook. As many yarn colours as you want. Note: as the pattern gets larger, each stripe uses more yarn.

This blanket is a lot harder to post an easy pattern. Instead I have posted the youtube link for the woman I learned the pattern from. (user: tjw1963) She is very good at explaining slowly. 



 And here is my final product:
Bavarian Crochet Baby Blanket












And so I join the Blogging World

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog. I hope that you find it inspiring and creative. Thank you all for viewing.