recipe-a-week #20: mustard

I made mustard! It was the easiest thing imaginable. It is HOT. Not the burn-your-tongue-and-make-your-lips-sizzle kind of hot, but the it's-burning-burning-burning-the-lining-of-my-esophagus-and-all-the-way-down-for-half-an-hour-and-even-yogurt-won't-do-anything-to-help kind of burn. So I haven't figured out yet exactly how I'm going to use it all... any suggestions? I bought my mustard seeds at Yarmouth Natural.

The original recipe is from Gourmet magazine, and is posted here. I picked up the June 2009 issue at the library, and was pleasantly surprised. It's not as fancy-schmancy as I had thought it might be, and it has recipes for this mustard, as well as ketchup and relish, which are next on my list to try. Oh, the lists of things to try! Sometimes it's overwhelming.

Homemade Mustard

Makes about1 1/2 cups
  • Active time:10 min
  • Start to finish:2 days (includes soaking)
From Gourmet June 2009
Mustard couldn’t be any simpler to make. Soaking the seeds before puréeing gives the finished product body and mellowness. It’s a great accompaniment for our ultimate burger.
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • Soak mustard seeds in vinegar and water at room temperature 2 days. (If seeds are not submerged, add just enough additional water to cover.)
  • Purée mixture in a food processor with sugar and 1 1/2 tsp salt until almost smooth, about 2 minutes. Thin to desired consistency with additional water and season with salt.
Cooks’ note: Mustard keeps, chilled, 1 month

Sherrie's note: I added approximately 1/2 cup of water to thin it at the end, and used a large measuring cup for the whole process; using a stick blender to puree it at the end. Enjoy!


You must read this post.

Oh, and here's a way for me to use some of my jars! (The ones that I didn't fill with freezer jam today, that is.

When I have my soap studio, these will be on one of the walls. And this wallpaper, in the bathroom.

Here's a recipe for English muffins.

Happy Tuesday!



I can't stand goutweed; it's an invasive plant that takes over the garden, with deep roots that are very difficult to extract. It's right up there with bindweed in garden evilness on a scale of 1-10. But, being the eternal optimist that I am, I found something beautiful about it. The flowers are incredible - each tiny cluster of minuscule flowers is like a smaller version of the whole flower head. Quite lovely, really.



Phillip was making a treat for us in his new play kitchen. Can you tell what he's making?

Saturday success: market and yard sale jackpots

These gorgeous peonies were at the farmer's market yesterday. Our peonies weren't quite open yesterday (one had opened this morning after some intense thunderstorms through the night), and we don't have any of this particular variety, so I had to buy one and two to share.
And carrots, mmmm.

I nearly jumped out of my skin, I was so excited to see peas at the market. I ate the whole bag as soon as we got home. That's not an exaggeration, either. Just ask Adam. He posted some pictures of our market goodies here.

We also picked up some local strawberries, which lasted a few minutes longer than the peas. And that enamel pot is from Frenchy's - I found it when Austen and I went last week. It's the perfect size for mixing up a double batch of soap.

After the market, we went to the Old World Bakery, where I finally remembered to pick up some cheese. This was the most delicious smoked gouda - it lasted a little longer than the strawberries, but not much.
And since I'm now on vacation for the summer (yay!) I picked up some reading material. This is the second issue of Hobby Farm Home I've picked up. The name threw me for a loop at first, but it's got lots of good information on gardening, cooking, preserving, raising goats, and all kinds of other useful things like building an outdoor oven. Really, I'm quite impressed with it, and just might have to get a subscription, since the home of my dreams has a few chickens and a goat names Sadie hanging around outside.

Now... on to the yard sales! Adam went to the gym first thing yesterday morning, and called me on his walk home to say that there was a great play kitchen at a yard sale for $8. But he had no cash. So P and I hopped into the car and whizzed over to the rescue. It's not a beauty like this one, but it was $8 and is in perfect condition. Did I mention that it was only $8? I have a video clip of him giving a tour, which I will try to post; since I had trouble with posting a video last time, I'll save it for its own post. He has literally spent hours already playing with it all by himself, which is the cutest thing on the planet. He makes tea, coffee (which no one in our house drinks), supper, washes his hands, reheats things in the oven, all the while with a precise running commentary. It's hilarious.

This and the play kitchen are equally exciting finds. This is an old-school (har har) desk. It's sturdy, looks fabulous, and isn't tipsy at all. Best thing? It was $1. One dollar! And that's one Canadian dollar!

I'm having an excellent start to my vacation.


iced tea

Adam says that this looks like a glass of pee. It's not; it's iced tea made from a tea concentrate I made, inspired by this post. I drink water 99% of the time, but on hot days (like for the past week, when it's been hovering around 27 degrees celsius) when I want to stay hydrated, the last thing I want is a sugary drink. So this is a great alternative, and much better than water with lemon (which I must say I'm not a huge fan of). I placed three regular (i.e. Red Rose) tea bags in a mason jar, filled it with cold water, and tucked it in the fridge overnight. I squeezed out the bags in the morning, and add a few tablespoons into a glass of cold water - yum! I added a tiny bit of honey to the glass for a bit of sweetness, but it really didn't make it much better. Maybe I'll try some maple sugar next time. And with mint tea and other herbal teas - I think that will be fantastic. You can see the original post I was inspired by here.

P.S.: I'm done work for the summer! Yay!


recipe-a-week #19: rigatoni (or fusilli) with goat cheese

Well, we're in week 27 of the year, and I'm a bit behind in my recipe-a-week schedule. I may or may not catch up, but either way, this is a super quick and delicious supper. (Are you beginning to gather that we eat pasta fairly often?) The original recipe is from Great Food Fast, and you can see it here. Here it is, with my modifications:

Rigatoni with Goat Cheese

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes


Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound rigatoni (I used fusilli)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup slivered sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, chopped or torn herbs, and/or pitted, sliced black olives (I used green onions and frozen peas)


  1. Cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
  2. Return pasta to pot, and toss with goat cheese and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, and add some of the reserved pasta water as desired. Sprinkle with preferred topping, and serve.

This was delicious; especially with some cheesy toasted disasters which were supposed to be cheese sticks crumbled on top. I wasn't paying attention when I was making the recipe, and used 4 times the amount of butter I should have. So rather than individual cheese sticks, I had one big cheesy thing on the cookie sheet. I couldn't let all of those good ingredients go to waste, so we used some crumbled on top of this pasta, and it was delicious.


antiquing with Austen and a wee veggie patch

I received an e-mail last week from fellow blogger Austen, who lives in a land far, far away where there happens to be a garbage strike. (Hello, Toronto!) There are other things going on there, I'm sure, but right now, that's all that the rest of Canada is hearing about. Back to my story. She wrote in her e-mail that she would be in Nova Scotia this week, and would I be interested in meeting up? Yes, please! She came all the way to Yarmouth, and we had a fantastic time. We had lunch at the Old World Bakery (or "Old Bakery" as Phillip calls it) with Adam and Phillip, then came back to my shack (our house is scraped for painting and looks atrocious) where I offered Austen tea, without milk. We were out of milk. How embarrassing. She brought sweet treats from Smith's Bakery, which were delicious, even with milk-less tea. (Again, Austen, I'm sorry. How boorish of me.) After tea, we went down to the waterfront, where there's an antiques shop set up above Killam Bros. Museum. Holy bananas, Batman! So much great stuff! Well displayed and organized, too.
I apologize for the poor quality pictures, and leaving you with the impression that Austen is not only a giant, but a hunchback as well. Neither is the case! And I should have made sure to take a decent picture. Thanks so much for coming, Austen - I had a great time and hope that you did, too.Ah, glass jars. One of my favourite topics. I've been keeping my eyes peeled for these blue ball jars for awhile now, and was tickled to find two of these while out with Austen. The blue jars were only produced until 1937, and the blue colour was from an impurity in the sand they were made from. Neat, eh? Neither has the glass top, but I'm okay with that. And they're slightly different from each other, which I think is charming. They're lovely tealight holders on our new picnic table.
Hey, wait - how did that sweet face with the full cheeks get in here? Moving right along...
Check out one of our veggie beds! I know it's not much, but things are doing pretty well, and Phillip has only pulled up one fistful of lettuce. The lettuces (Romaine and Buttercrunch, I think) are on the right, carrots on the bottom left, and green onions on the top left. I'm excited for the mini harvests we'll have!


unpaper towels

My unbleached, unpaper towels from AthenaCreates' Etsy shop arrived last week. They're nice and thin, about the size of a facecloth, and textured nicely for grabbing goo. I like them! And I had this napkin holder hiding in a drawer, which I was thankful I didn't toss in one of my purging frenzies. That's happened twice this week - the other thing I was thankful I hadn't tossed is the tray from Frenchy's which I recovered (and have plans to cover yet again). It's perfect for carting things out to our new picnic table!


stand mixer (or, Frenchy's is my favourite place)

Look what I picked up at Frenchy's last week! A Hamilton Beach vintage stand mixer which works like a charm, and has some pretty snazzy features, such as:
bowl control! Who couldn't use a little bit of that? And the "Mixguide"; a little rotating list of settings to choose from when you slide the lever. I took a video to share, and have been trying to upload it since Friday. Since it still hasn't worked, I've kind of given up.

And no, I did not buy the mixer to replace my Kitchen Aid which you're all so familiar with - I bought it to make more whipped soap! I don't want to taint the Kitchen Aid with fragrance or essential oils and have fragrance-flavoured cookies by accident. Yee-haw! I'm excited for some new soaping adventures this summer, and a sexy stand mixer like this baby will make it all the more fun. I also picked up a fantastic dresser, which with a good scrub, a fresh coat of paint, and some new knobs, will be a very useful addition to our house. It's solid wood, and is in great shape. I love its little feet. I hope that you're having a great weekend!


p is for popcorn, and i like white mirrors

I like popcorn. Eaten in the evening, out of my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. I love the handle on it.
I discovered this maple sugar at Yarmouth Natural last week and tried it with salted butter on said popcorn. Yum. I'm thinking that it will be a heavenly topping for crème brûlée. Mmm.
I found this mirror at Frenchy's last week. I think it was $6. Hideous, no?
A quick layer of spray paint on a sunny afternoon last week, and it's much better. Do you see the other mirror reflected in the picture? I picked that one up at a yard sale a few years ago, and I adore it. One of my favourite finds. Oh, and I have this one, too. Okay, I like mirrors with white trim.

I can't remember if I posted this already or not. I haven't decided where it will live in the house, but I love it.

I have an excellent video post which I've been having trouble uploading since last night. I was going to wait to post again until that one's up, but I'm just too impatient. So hold your breath for some great Frenchy's finds!



The spirea in our yard are a bit slow to bloom. Since I picked the plant up last fall for 50 cents and rather unceremoniously plopped it into the ground, I can't complain. I can't believe that it is June 18 already. This month has been flying by. Phillip had his 2-year checkup today, and surprise, surprise - he's fabulous. The doctor said that he's at a 3-year old level. I'm such a proud mama!

And a tired mama, too. I feel like everything takes more effort than it should, and just don't feel like my usual energy-bubbling-over self. I will be done work for the summer next week, and I can't wait. I want to just sit out in the yard, read, and have tea. Yup, I think that should do the trick.


star of david

I picked a few of these this morning in the garden, and the bulb just happened to join the flower.


centsational girl and etsy goodies

Another of the weekend pics, and a few other fun things:

If you're into taking something blah and redoing it to completely change it, primarily with ridiculous amounts of spray paint, you will love Centsational Girl's blog. She has tons of fantastic projects; here are but a few of her 'revamped pieces'. Her style is floufier and more formal than mine, but I can definitely appreciate it. (LH, her style reminds me of yours!) She gave me a reason to want to travel to San Francisco - to visit Crown and Crumpet. She has some more pictures of it in this post.

Adam, don't follow this link. I ordered this for a surprise treat for the husband the other day.

And I also ordered these "Unbleached unPaper Towels" to try out. We don't use paper towels except for chicken goo, but I find that we use about a thousand dishcloths each day to wipe up spills and messes and Phillip. I like that these are thin and will dry quickly, and take up less space in the wash than the dishcloths. Yes, I could totally make them, but who knows how long it might take for me to get around to that!

Today was a pretty good day.

purple ground cover continued

This was another of the purple ground cover pictures I took on the weekend. I'm really pleased with it. Aren't they the sweetest flowers? So old-fashioned and delicate. More to come.


recipe-a-week #18: beef and orange stir-fry

Recipe-a-week is back! Tonight's supper was from Great Food Fast, and it was pretty good. Of course, I made some modifications - some intentional, some not - which I will add in parentheses below:

Beef and Orange Stir Fry
Serves 4; 25 minutes
  • 3 oranges (I used one orange for the sauce and two grapefruit for the rest)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless sirloin or rib eye, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips (I had this strange sandwich beef, similar to what you would use on a Philly sandwich, which worked well)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil (I skipped this)
  • 6 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths (I didn't have scallions, but had tons of chives on hand, so used a boatload of those instead)


  1. Into a small bowl, finely grate zest and squeeze juice from 1 orange. Add garlic and soy sauce.
  2. With a sharp paring knife, peel remaining 2 oranges. Slice oranges crosswise 1/2 inch thick, then halve slices; push out, and discard any seeds. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss meat with cornstarch until coated. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Working in batches (adding more oil if needed), brown beef on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  4. Pour juice mixture into skillet, and boil until syrupy, about 1 minute. Return beef to skillet; add orange slices and scallions. Toss until coated and heated through. Serve hot.
I served this with couscous, which was delicious. I would recommend not substituting the grapefruit; the oranges would have been perfect. (The truth about why I used grapefruit: when I was choosing a recipe, I glanced in the pantry to see what was on hand, and what I thought were three oranges were one orange and two grapefruit. I was too far into the recipe by the time I realized my mistake. Whoops.)

abby tries again

Remember awhile ago when I mentioned that I liked some of Abby's prints? Well, we worked out a swap, and look what arrived in today's mail! The giant print that I love, along with some fabulous other treats. I love the bowl photo in the upper left so much that I framed it right away and it's on the kitchen wall. The vintage tablecloth kills me, I love it so much. And look in the bottom left at her apricot blossom business card - I wish you could touch it. It's a beautiful, thick paper with a perfect finish.

Abby's blog is here, and her online shop is here. Happy browsing!


cupcakes and eels (yes, eels)

I treated myself to a copy of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes today. It was the first Martha cookbook that I really wasn't that keen on, since I have never made cupcakes. Never. Nope, I'm not kidding. But when I opened it up in the store aisle, I knew that my life would have to change its course.
These look much like Queen Elizabeth Cake I've posted about several times, only in cupcake form and with chocolate added. Martha's Snickerdoodles recipe is one of my favourite cookies, ever. So I'm willing to try it in cupcake form!

And are these not the cutest cupcakes you've ever seen? Sheep! Fenced in and everything.

And I do love a good dose of lemon.
I can see some serious weight gain in my future.

Today was better. I laughed and meant it twice, and it felt good. Once was over misheard song lyrics, which never fails to make me collapse in fits of laughter. The one that put me over the edge today was "the girl with colitis goes by", misheard, of course in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds where the actual line is "a girl with kaleidoscope eyes". The other thing that made me laugh was a bit more unusual, and was noticed by Adam in the 'From the Cruiser' section in today's Vanguard, our local paper. Ahem:

"May 18, 7:39 am, received a 911 call reporting a possible traffic hazard at the intersection of Vancouver and Main streets. The reported hazard was hundreds of live eels that had spilled onto the road. The RCMP located a fisherman who had spilled his load of eels. The police assisted with traffic control while the mess was cleaned up."



Phillip knew just what I needed this weekend, and gave me repeated concerts of this, his favourite song to sing. (Notice the 'guitar' in hand.)


ground cover and thanks

I love this invasive ground cover, whatever it's called. (I'm not huge on finding out real names of things unless they're in need of something. I enjoy them just as well whether they have a proper name or not.) Phillip and I spent a bit of time in the garden together this afternoon, and he enjoyed examining these, too.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the well wishes. I am so glad that I decided to share with everyone right away. For me, just knowing that people care and have lived through this is very helpful. The best thing is learning that so many other people I know have gone and are going through the same misery. That sounds terrible - of course I'm not happy in their sadness, but it is comforting to know that you're not alone. So thank you.

I did manage to take this picture (and some other pretty ones, too) today, and make eight batches of soap. So I'm learning that productivity in misery is my thing, too, and that a few tears (or a lot, really) don't ruin a batch of soap. I felt like Keri Russell in Waitress, making her pies, only for me it was soap. There may me more batches coming.


sad news

As you probably know, I would much rather keep things happy and beautiful here, but every now and then the horrible parts of the real world work their way in. I had a miscarriage today, three days after telling the world that I was pregnant. I'll be back soon, hopefully with happier things to share.

good morning

I found this great little bucket thing last week. The possibilities are endless (carrying utensils outside to eat, holding crayons and chalk, clothespins, flowers...) but right now it's on the dining room table with a tealight in each bucket. I think it will be very pretty on our soon-to-arrive picnic table in the evening, with the flickering tealights burning away. And our lilac tree has revived! Last year, we may have had two or three blooms. We pruned several dead branches, and also pruned a lot from a neighbouring snowball tree which was blocking the light from the lilac. This year, it's covered in blooms again. I wish you could smell them! Like most flowers, artificial versions are dreadful, but the actual scent is fantastic.

It has been a long and busy week, and I am thrilled that it's Friday. I have plans for a bit of a soapmaking marathon this weekend, since I have very little soap on hand, and I'm finally feeling like making some! I hope that you have a great weekend!


the birthday boy

Phillip has some snazzy new birthday duds. This pair of PJ's was made especially for him by a mama we know, with fabric from (you can't get any better than this!) a men's shirt from Frenchy's. Thank you so much! He loves them, and keeps rubbing his belly.
And what do you need along with a pair of PJ's? Why, an apron, of course! Ingrid made this fantastic apron just for P. As you can see, it's a hit. Sorry for the terrible pics; he's quite the mover.

And here's our present for P - a new red tricycle. Here he is, showing you his favourite thing about it.