Friday, July 30, 2010


I absolutely adore sunflowers. They never cease to amaze me, they are big, bright, super easy to grow and the seeds are delicious. I have them around my veggie garden because they attract bees, butterflies and they are so pretty.

And when the seed heads form I will hang them on the fence for the chickens to pick at and the stems are quite strong and can be used as stakes. Not bad for a little bitty seed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Flower power

I have not been posting as regularly as I like but all the sunshine makes my upstairs office too hot and I avoid it like the plague....

Today I'm up early and it's nice and cool so here it goes.

I was and still am trying to make an English garden. I tried it at my old house in Britannia Beach, B.C. and I'm trying to achieve this type of garden here in Powell River. Every English garden must have, in my opinion, hollyhocks. I was just starting to garden and for some reason could not for the life of me find any hollyhocks. Of course at that time starting the flower from seed never entered my mind. I was looking in nurseries for the actual plant...unsuccessfully. So to the Internet I went and through my searches I found the Canadian Gardening Forum and became an avid reader.

The forum hosts several topics and one of them is a seed exchange. I read through all the topics, followed the conversations, never having the courage to participate, learned so much about gardening, and finally there it was, the topic I was most interested in...hollyhock for the taking. But could I really start anything from seeds? Not sure but I was willing to give it a go. I sent a self stamped envelope to an Ontario gardener and a few weeks later I had my precious hollyhock seeds. I purchased some seed starting soil, a cell pack, and planted my seeds, and watered, hovered, watered, and hovered over my seeds, looking for a sign of life, and then, there they were, hollyhock sprouts. I was thrilled. Out into the garden they went.

We sold the Britannia Beach house before I could see the flowers but I quickly got more seeds started when we moved to Powell River. I hope the hollyhocks thrived at my old house because they sure thrive here. So much so that I'm now finding little plants everywhere, all over the veggie garden, all over my flower gardens....all from some seeds from Ontario....
I spied some beautiful red hollyhocks just down the road from me...I may have to knock on the door and ask for some seeds....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What to do with leftover steak...

The frozen food section at my, and your local supermarket carries frozen grilled chicken and beef that you can use for stir fries, casseroles, pastas and salads. For new and or inexperienced cooks these frozen meat selections are nothing more than left overs, so go ahead, use your own left overs, they will be much tastier, healthier, fresher and much less expensive.

I had my kids over for a barbecue the other night and I had a small grilled steak left over. Grilled steak...I decided to make a steak salad with it.

In the fridge I had the left over steak, some green onions and lettuce. On the counter I had a tomato and garlic, in the bread basket I had some homemade croutons and in the veggie garden I had some zucchini, potatoes and parsley.

So to put this salad together I thinly sliced the steak and green onion, minced the garlic and chopped the parsley. Tossed it all together with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and let it stand for a few hours in the fridge.

Meanwhile I boiled the potatoes and when cooked tossed them in some olive oil and vinegar, not much. The zucchini were also boiled until just fork tender and left to cool and drain on a kitchen towel.
Dinner time....dice the zucchini and toss them in with the lettuce, tomatoes and croutons again add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. There are no right ways or wrong ways but I suggest you keep the oil and vinegar to a minimum and adjust as your taste desires.
Place the salad on a plate and top with the potatoes and marinated steak. This is truly delicious especially on a hot night.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What if....

What if you had to cut down every tree you need to build your house...
Would you build a 3000 SQ FT house plus a bonus and great room?

What if you had to carry all the water you needed in buckets...
Would you take a 30 minute shower?

What if you had to grow all your own food, every single morsel....
Would you throw any of it out?

What if you had to dig for every single drop of oil then refine it....
Would you drive 100 feet to the store 10 times a day?

What if you had to sew everything you wore....
Would you still need all the clothes you have?

What if an animal had to give up it's life...
And what if you had to kill that animal....
Would you still need 20 pairs of shoes and handbags to match?
Would you only eat the choice cuts of meat?

What if we all consumed as if we had to procure and manufacture everything we need ourselves?
Would you consume, use and throw out less?

I don't want to go back in time. I believe in progress but....not at the expense of my fellow humans, future humans and the planet.

Every time you get in your car or buy something or throw something out think about it. Can you do without it? Can you recycle it? Can you make it yourself?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cherry picking

Despite our cold and wet spring we have a bumper crop of cherries and with no rain in the forecast we will also have unblemished cherries. If it rains the cherries split and rot and the birds are the only ones that benefit.

I will make loads of jam for the diner which I will sample, give cherry pie a try, and the rest I will pit and freeze. Truly there are that many cherries.

Broad beans

I feel we did not go fishing but we did spend some wonderful time with my sister and brother in law, a few relaxing days at the cabin, and a few days playing in the garden, wonderful.

My sister loved going into the veggie garden for our dinner...hmmm! what should we have??? Zucchini? Swiss Chard? Or how about some broad beans? She picked broad beans, AKA fava beans. This was the first time I grew them and they are a keeper, in fact I will likely increase the number of seeds I put down next year.

Broad beans, once picked and shucked, need to be blanched for just a few minutes, then drop into an ice bath. Once cooled the tough outer skin needs to be removed. I sauteed the beans in a little bit of butter....ok lots of butter....and ate them as a side dish. They are very tasty and delicate and the color is amazing, you really must give these a try.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Going fishing...

Yup....the diner is closed and blog land will have to do without my musings for a week.
Art and I are on holidays....Yahoo!!!!!
Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Investment in the diner

A few months ago I added waffles with fruit and whipped cream topping to the menu and I had every intention of whipping my own cream but there was never enough time or space. So I had to buy whipped cream in a canister which is very good but also very expensive.

You would think that I purchased a huge piece of kitchen equipment considering how long it took me to make up my mind but I finally bought it, and here it is in all it's glory.

Can't wait to use it...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chives need a haircut

Do your chives need a haircut? Once my chives finish blooming they sort of go blahhhh!!!! All I do is give them a haircut and in a few weeks I'll have a new growth of chives and if I'm really lucky a flower or two.

Did you know chive flowers are edible? They are very tasty in a salad or as a garnish and I also use them in flower arrangements.

Before the haircut.

The new cut.

Three weeks after the haircut.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


These are, by far, the best chocolate-chocolate chip muffins. They are moist, wickedly chocolaty, almost like chocolate cake...

Here is the recipe taken from the Joy of Baking website

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (230 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups (265 grams) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (170 grams) milk or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Position rack in center of oven. Butter, or line with paper liners, 12 - 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups.
In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.

In another large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.
Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter (the muffin cups will be full), using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

This will make 12 large muffins but for the diner I make 6 super huge muffins...