Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Perfect French fries

I am lucky to have a very good Irish friend, actually a whole family, but today my post is about just one of the family, Deirdre, a beautiful Irish lass, with bright blue smiling eyes, and she adores potatoes. I mean adores potatoes. She has been known to have fries and a baked potato, at lunch, on the same plate.

She makes the best roast potatoes ever, well Deirdre tells me her moms are better, but I've only had Deirdre's and they are fantastic. But again, today's post is about French fries, and it was Deirdre who showed me how to make them perfect. And it is thanks to Deirdre that my diner, Magpie's, is quickly getting the "best fries" in town reputation.

Some of you may know the secret already but if you don't, the perfect French fry is double fried.

First take a handsome guy to cut the fries.

Soak the cut fries in cold water for at least 30 minutes.

Drain well and fry them at 325F for a few minutes, you don't want to change the color, you just want them to cook through.

Then when you are ready for them you increase the oil temperature to 375F and fry the potatoes until golden brown and crispy, toss with sea salt right away, and serve.

My sister always says that if she is going to eat something "bad" it better taste really good and be worth the calories.

So remember this .... a fresh cut double fried French fry has the same calories as a frozen for who knows how long, over processed, stored in a plastic bag french fry that has been fried just once, so which would you choose?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wrap around skirt

This super simple skirt that should have been done in two hours took me the better part of 3 weeks...why? 24 hour days are just not long enough...

It's very comfortable especially with the soft corduroy fabric I picked.

My husband can't take a photo to save his life so I want to mention that it looks much better than this picture might lead you to believe but then again I can't take a great picture either ... even with the help of the awesome camera we own, a Nikon D90... that neither of us really knows how to use it...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Flower bouquet

I received the biggest bouquet of flowers on Saturday for my birthday. It was so big that I didn't have a vase to fit it in so I broke it down into three bouquets.

Sunshine yellow for the kitchen.

Red rose for the living room.

And white for the bathroom.

The night ended with a wonderful seafood dinner at the Laughing Oyster.
I wish it was my birthday every week!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Herbal tea

I have great ambitions of making my own herbal tea but reality has set in and chances of me growing enough of anything to make my own tea are slim to none and slim just left town...

So I buy my tea, whatever is on sale, I'm not fussy. This time around Lipton was on sale, their tea bags are a pyramid shape, not sure how that will make the tea taste better but that's their claim. Now I always throw my tea bags and coffee grinds into the compost but guess what, these stupid little triangular bags are made from something that looks very much like plastic netting. I could be wrong but these bags are indestructible, have any of you tried this tea?

I am so mad...but I will use these teabags but I will never, ever buy them again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Skeletal flower

While spring cleaning my flower garden I came across what I believe is a bell's skeletal remains.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday sunset

After a wonderful meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, carrots, asparagus and mousse cake the night ended with a beautiful sunset.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Summer in a bowl

...even with the longer days summer seems a long way off but with a little bit of this and little bit of that I was able to capture the essence of summer in my bowl.

I had a scant cup of dried chick peas that I wanted to be rid off, so I soaked, boiled and cooled them, then into the bowl. Half of a tomato which I diced and tossed into the bowl. Half a yellow pepper, sliced and into the bowl. About a quarter of a long cucumber, peeled, diced and into the bowl. About a cup of cilantro, to lazy to chop it so I used it as salad greens, just the leaves, and it went into the bowl. Toss the whole thing with olive oil, vinegar, but I think fresh lime would have been better, salt and pepper and there you have it, summer in a bowl.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Around the neighbourhood..

...on a wet afternoon.

An empty park...

With so much rain the worms are making their way to the top..the robins are happy!

Crocuses on a soaked front yard.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's up with this weather?

Spring refuses to spring....the wind, the low temps, the sideways never ending rain, it seems to be going on forever. The ground is drenched, so going outside is not an option. I walk the dog because he begs me with his eyes and I come back drenched, ugh!!! very depressing. The only thing to do in this weather is sit inside, eat copious amounts of food and watch a movie or better yet watch moviesss.

As much as I like to eat, I'm not always in the mood to cook but eat we must. I had some leftover bits of this and that like black beans, sour cream, cherizo....

I think nachos and movies sounds just about right as the rain beats against the windows.

On the way home I stopped for tortilla chips and the rest I had on hand, leftover nachos....

I topped the chips with chopped cherizo, shredded cheese and black beans, served it up with a side of fresh salsa and sour cream and dinner was served.

The fresh salsa I make is also called "Pico de Gallo" and it's really easy, here is how I do it:

3 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 small purple onion, finely chopped

1 seeded jalapeno, finely chopped

1/2 cup firmly packed cilantro, finely chopped

the juice of one lime

salt to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

Mix all ingredients well and serve.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are you coming for a visit????

Then there are a few things you need to know.

First, you are always welcome...

...and now here is the rest of it...

1. My floors are not so clean that you can eat off them...I have a very good kitchen table that we use for eating.

2. There is a 50/50 chance that my kitchen table is cluttered, if it is, sit down, clear yourself a spot and get comfortable, coffee and warm conversations await.

3. Help yourself to anything in the fridge...but be warned...stay away from the back. I have not visited the back part of the fridge for some time.

4. I'm cheap, so those yogurt containers may in fact not have any yogurt in them and again avoid them if they are at the back of the fridge.

5. I am not vegetarian, my husband is not vegetarian, neither is my dog, cats or chickens and I will not cook two separate meals.

6. I'm not Dr. Doolittle but I do speak to the animals...relax...I'm the only one doing the talking.

7. Oh yes the animals...they are of utmost importance to me and I love them dearly, best you get used to it. The dog will smell your crotch, the cats may walk all over you or they may never make themselves known to you, that's just the way it is.

8. The animals shed, all the time, but not to worry, you can keep the fuzzy slippers once your visit is done.

9. The bathroom is cleanish...

10. And finally I am thrilled you came for a visit, I really am. Can't wait to see you again. Ciao for now.
***PS. I almost forgot about the dust bunnies...they are gentle, very gentle but look for them and they attack...please let them lie in peace.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New gate post

Last summer Art found an interesting piece of wood washed up on the shores of Powell Lake. We were not sure what we would use it for but it was worth keeping. It's use became very apparent after a wind storm...the rotten gate post fell over so this interesting piece of wood is now the new and improved gate post. Can you see the perfect spot for hanging basket? And won't the honeysuckle look wonderful as it winds it's way around the post? I can see it so clearly....and I can't wait for summer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shrove...Fat...Pancake... Tuesday

Final chance to finish off all that butter and cream before lent...well that's how the story goes...

So how did I celebrate Fat Tuesday??? With banana, chocolate chip pancakes and blackberry the diner and at home, yum!

Start with your typical buttermilk pancake recipe...buttermilk, egg, brown sugar, butter...

Add flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips, mix, but not too much, lumps are fine...

Melt some butter into a frying pan or grill, pour pancakes, slice some bananas and place on top...and flip when bubbles start to show...

Serve banana side up, add a dollop of butter, a dusting of icing sugar and some warm syrup....

These are so yummy...give them a try, fat Tuesday or not!

Monday, March 7, 2011


We seldom have big snow storms out on here on the West Coast. We get a dusting here and there and sometimes we will get a foot of snow, for a day, then slush and muss for several days as temperatures rise. So instead of snow we are blessed with snowdrops. These little beauties show up very early, sometimes even late January, cheering us up with their cute little white flowers promising us that spring is just around the corner.

I have never had any but that has now changed. Wendy Devlin, a fellow garden club member, passionate gardener and farmer, has snow drops all over her farm. She kindly invited garden club members out to her farm to dip up snow drops...several of us took her up on her offer.

Snowdrops do multiply but stay in clumps so they are very easy to manage. I took several clumps, divided them up and dug them into my garden, I think I might now have about 20 clumps.

Here are some pictures from Wendy's farm.

Three preagnant goats

One of two calves.

More snowdrops
And another early bloomer but can't for the life of me remember it's name.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


This little iris is quite amazing. It came up a little early because the beginning of February was quite mild and we were all fooled ... but it all changed on Feb. 15th, since then this little iris has withstood -8C temperatures for a few days, several windstorms, snow, rain, rain and more rain and all in the last two weeks and still it shines.

This little iris is tough but oh so beautiful!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

seed starting

If you are a gardener and start your transplants from seed you have already started some or you getting your seeds and seed starting supplies in order.

I mentioned before that I started broccoli seeds and I wanted to share how I did it without buying new supplies, except for the seed starting soil.

At the diner I'm always buying plastic boxes of spinach, berries and lettuce. I noticed that some of the plastic boxes have holes in them, usually the berry boxes, while the spinach and lettuce boxes don't, all have lids. I was recycling the boxes until the light bulb switched on last November...

Why not place a box with holes inside a box without holes, this would allow for watering from the bottom and allow for drainage. I started collecting boxes.

This picture does not show it but I did add some pebbles in the box without holes to allow for drainage. I filled the box with holes with seed starting soil, watered it, and planted groupings of 3 seeds about 4 inches apart, 18 in all. Put the box in a warm spot and when the seeds germinate I moved the box to a bright window and/or under growing lights.

I'm going to keep the seedlings in the boxes until it's time to harden them off and then transplant into the garden. I'm trying to avoid potting them into little 4 inch pots...hope this works.