Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Is there anything more homey than laundry drying on the line in brilliant sunshine and a gentle breeze ?

Try making your own laundry detergent here

Goodbye to chemicals - hello to green clean

I'm almost finished with my chemical laden cleaners and will start using greener and less expensive products made with vinegar, borax, washing soda and bicarb.

In the kitchen:

I make a thick paste with 1 tbsp of soda and a drop or two of water. This is a great scrubber to clean my stove top and sink. For an all around kitchen cleaner I mix 1/2 cup of washing soda, 1/2 cup of vinegar and 2 litres of hot water; I use this to wash cupboards, appliances, counter tops, walls, tiles and vinyl floors. For windows and glass surfaces I mix about 3 tbs of vinegar and 2 cups of water, store it in a spray bottle, spray and wipe with a lint free cloth or newspaper.

I use these same methods in the bathroom but add a little bleach(1 tsp) to the washing soda and water and pour it into the toilet and let it sit for about 20 minutes. I'm trying to find a greener way to wash the toilet but for now a little bleach will have to do.


In the shop

Tea anyone?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blast from the past

A friend from high school called me today to tell me about our high school reunion at St Thomas Aquinas. I won't be able to attend but I was so happy to chat with my old friend Angela.

High School was difficult for me for many reasons but the biggest I think was my lack of self conficence, if only I knew then what I know now...


Friday, April 24, 2009

In the garden

I planted most of my seeds and potatoes last weekend and put the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and eggplant in the unheated greenhouse to harden them off. When the weather warms up a little more I'll buy two zucchini plants and I'm hoping to find a cantaloupe plant as well, I'd like to give it a try. I'll start some pumpkin seeds and if I can dig up another garden I'd like to put down some butternut and spaghetti squash. Last year some buttercup squash showed up but I didn't care for it too much.

In the greenhouse.

Did a little tour of my garden today and snap peas, radishes, turnips, lettuces and chard have sprouted and I'm waiting on onions, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and green onions. I have one row left which will go to green beans..I can't believe I don't have any room for beets. I've never planted parsnips so if they don't produce they are out and beets will be back in next year.

You can't see much growing but here is the veggie garden.

And the artichokes are making an appearance amid the grass and weeds, must get out there..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fancy bread

I tried twice now to make my own yogurt with no success. I followed this recipe the first time and my mom's the second. Both are almost the same; my mom adds one cup of yogurt to the milk and places the yogurt in a tepid water bath for the same amount of time, about 3 hours. So once again I have 4 cups of icky milk, with some lumps, some sourness and totally non drinkable..I give up.

But...my bread baking is getting better. My recipe is here but this time I sprinkled the unbaked bread with water and rolled it in a mixture of cornmeal , sesame seeds, oats and flax seeds, looks really rustic and tastes great.

Fried dough

Fried dough..it is exactly that, fried dough. My husband is a Gitxsan Carrier from the Hazelton Area B.C. Canada, and it's from him and his family that I learned how to make it. Once in a blue moon I'll hold back some bread dough for frying, today was a blue moon day.

Heat heat some oil for frying.

Divide the dough into bun size pieces, than flatten each piece.

When the oil is hot add the dough, make sure you lay the dough in the oil away from you.

Drain the bread dough on paper towels and enjoy. Spread with butter and jam or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, delicious.

No more shampoo

I didn't write about this yet but about 3 months ago a gave up shampoo and started using bicarb soda. I started out by making a paste in my hand with about 1 tablespoon of soda, added water to make a thick paste, rubbed it on my scalp and then rinsed. Super soft, clean hair but a warning..it takes about two weeks for your hair to adapt and within that time your hair tends to be fairly limp and flat, not very attractive. It wasn't a huge issue for me because I always have my hair in a ponytail. Now I have a small plastic bottle with the soda mixture, one part soda to four parts water, shake well before using. I used to wash my hair every day but now I can go two days and in the winter when I'm not outside all that much, three days.

Before shaking. After shaking

Shiny clean hair..the orange??? Old hair dye I'm trying to grow out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fresh from the Sea

Look what my neighbour gave me.

Freshly caught today. I poached them, shucked them and are now in the fridge ready for a salad.

These prawns were caught just off the waters of Powell River. These little guys are pink when caught and remain pink after cooking. They are very prickly with a tougher skin than their warm water cousins. Once cooked their texture is not quite as firm as other prawns and shrimp but just as delicious with a sweet buttery flavour.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Healthy zucchini, banana, chocolate chip...bread

I'm trying very hard to eat healthy in an effort to reduce my cholesterol with diet rather than pills. I have 6 months to reduce my cholesterol which means I'll be tested in July however if my condition is genetic..then diet alone will not work. But I've already lost about 20 lbs so it's a win/win regardless of the outcome.

I have a bit of a sweet tooth and love baked goodies which of course are usually high in fat, sugar and cholesterol. So I'm always trying to bake healthy snacks and yesterday I came up with a real winner. I still have lots of shredded zucchini in the freezer from last year's crop and decided to bake zucchini bread which I have been baking for years from the Betty Crocker's New Cookbook.

I froze my zucchini in 3 cup measurements as per the recipe but when it defrosted and squeezed all the moisture out of it I was left with one cup, so I added two large bananas.

Here is the recipe as it appears in the cookbook with my substitutions/additions in parentheses.

3 cups shredded zucchini ( 1 cup zucchini and two ripe mashed bananas)
1 2/3 cup sugar (1/3 cup sugar)
2/3 cup oil (1/3 cup canola oil)
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs (one large egg + the equivalent of 3 eggs from an egg substitute product)
3 cups all purpose flour ( 1 1/2 cup each of white and whole grain flour)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I didn't have any on hand but added 1/2 c chocolate chips)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat over to 350 degrees and butter and flour pans. This makes two 8 inch loaf pans which are baked for 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees or one glass lasagna pan approx 8 x 13 in for about 35 minutes.
Mix zucchini, bananas, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl, stir in the rest of the ingredients and pour into pans.
It's moist, sweet but from the raisins and bananas rather than from the sugar and the chocolate chips are really delicious with the banana. I cut the cake into three equal sections and freeze it.

I didn't have any apple sauce on hand nor did I feel like making any but next time I'll substitute all the oil with applesauce.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Some time back I started crocheting a blanket to use at the cabin. I didn't buy any yarn for this one, just used left overs from past years and yarn given to me by my mom. Well it's finished..love the colors.

This weekend I planted sugar peas and swiss chard. I have many more seeds to plant but it's still a little cold, frost this morning.

My seedlings are doing quite well, getting bigger, maybe a bit leggy so it better warm up around here..
The hollyhocks, marigolds and snapdragons that I started from seed are moving along in my unheated greenhouse. I have some mystery plants growing to..why oh why did I think I could recognize a seed???

I'm planting potatoes for the first time this year, Yukon Golds, if the weather holds they will go in this weekend.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good Morning muffins

I woke up pretty early today, I was sipping on a cup of coffee and noticed the food my son and his new wife are taking to the float cabin today. A box of coke, some jalapeno pringles and two boxes of mac and cheese..really??? I guess these two really believe they can survive on love..well maybe emotionally but I'm older and wiser and I know that love, mac and cheese coke and chips will physically not get you very far.
So I decided to bake some cherry struesel muffins for breakfast and fresh buns for sandwiches. and with some lunch meat and cheese they should be ok.
Here is the happy couple.

And here is the muffin recipe.
Cherry Streusel Muffins

1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil*
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg**
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherries***

Streusel topping

2 tbls firms butter
1/4 cup flour
2 tbls packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 F. Grease 12 muffin cups and prepare streusel topping by cutting the butter into the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon until crumbly, set aside.
Beat milk, egg, oil and vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once and mix until damp, batter will be lumpy but do not over mix or the muffins will heavy. Fold in cherries and divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the streuesel topping over the 12 muffins cups and bake for 20 to 25 min. Remove to wire rack, delicious served warm.

*substitute 1/4 cup of apple sauce for a lighter muffin
**substitute with an a reduced yolk product like egg beaters to lower the cholesterol
***I used thawed, well drained frozen cherries but you can substitute with almost any fruit. If frozen make sure you thaw and drain the fruit.

Happy Easter everyone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finally finished

I mentioned in a previous post that my neighbour is pregnant and due very soon. I wanted to make a little something for the new babe using material from my stash..

It seems that I've been working on it forever but it's done now.
A change pad, booties and bib.

Now I can move onto my next project, a tea cozy..let's hope it doesn't take as long to finish..


Monday, April 6, 2009

Food budget

I've been looking at my food budget, well rather the lack of a budget and thinking that I can do a much better job in reducing the amount of money I spend on food.

Said the Hobbit, a wonderful blog, comments on their $1.00 per day food budget. Yikes...I spend much more than that..

It is an ambitious goal and one I admire but...how does she do it? Said the Hobbit made a comment to my Pasta and Prawn post about her budget - grade 2 veggies and out of date sauces help her to live within her budget.

Food makes me a little crazy. My cupboards and freezer have to be full or I get nervous which makes it difficult to stick to a budget because if something that I use is on sale then I usually buy it. There are four grocery stores in Powell River and I shop at all of them because they are all very close. I wait for the sale fliers and then make my list according to sales.The upside to my neurosis is that if people come over unexpectedly I can always whip something up and not run to the supermarket...

So..Margaret..get over it already..and make a budget. I know I can't come close to $1.00 per day, or $2.00 or $3.00 but I think I can start with $10.00 per day, $70.00 per week. See how that goes and hopefully reduce it further as I get used to it.

I'll make a spreadsheet and track the amount of money I spend on food and post my success and/or failure.

I tried to break down the cost of the pasta and prawn dish I posted yesterday but it's time consuming and not very accurate. I have a hard time costing out pepper, salt, spices, oil ect...I use them every day but only buy then once in a while.

The prawn pasta I made breaks down like this:

Prawns - $6.99
Parmesan - $0.50
Pasta - $0.75

Foccacia Bread
flour - $1.00
yeast- $ 0.20
Olive oil - $0.50

Butter lettuce - $0.89
tomato - $0.50
cucumber - $0.50

Parsley, salt and pepper, chili flakes, dried basil, olive oil and vinegar - $2.00

Bottle of homemade white wine $1.66 (4 glasses)

Total for four adults $15.49/$3.87 per person for dinner.

I'm really counting on my veggie patch to get me through the winter...fingers crossed for a hot, sunny summer.


Pasta with Prawns

Fast, easy, simple and delicious - pasta with prawns.


350G dry linguine
2 cups of prawns, deveined and peeled
1/3c olive oil - divided
1/2c finely chopped parsley
1 tsp chili flakes
3 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper

In a large pot bring salted water to boil for the pasta. The water should be as salty as the sea. Place the pasta in the boiling water and stir right away until the water returns to boil. The water should remain at a gentle boil, cook the pasta as per the package instructions, about 8 minutes or so.

In the meantime, over medium high heat saute the prawns in about half of the olive oil until just pink, salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat and add the rest of the oil, butter, parsley and garlic.

Drain the pasta, toss in the prawns and sauce, serve.

Parmesan cheese can be added but often on fish dishes cheese is not used.

I have substituted mushrooms and asparagus for the prawns and it's just as delicious, however Parmesan cheese is a must.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Snow again but...

With fresh bear tracks...up the side of our house, across the street, and into the neighbours garbage .

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools joke??

For anyone in Canada not living on the West Coast an April 1st snowfall might not be unusual but for us who do live here it's absolute craziness..

Mother Nature is playing her jokes again, good one!