kale chips and eating atlantic

I tried kale for the first time this week, and probably ingested that little guy. (I didn't see him until I was editing the picture! A few days too late.) I had heard several times over about kale chips, and how making them is a sure-fire way to get kids to eat their kale. Not that Phillip has any kind of picky-eater issues at all - I just thought it must be a good way to make it delicious. In case you're like me and haven't tried it before, it's pretty much broccoli in leaf form. Smells like it, tastes like it, but is leafy. I don't go for wilty greens - something about them really makes me squinch my nose - so I figured that (as is the case with most things) roasting it with some olive oil and salt would do the trick. And it did - it was delicious. And so very, very crumbly. They kind of disappear in your mouth. Yum! Special thanks to JK for giving me the kale from her garden in the first place!

We've been eating all kinds of amazing local vegetables lately. We had some celery in our CSA basket that has the most concentrated celery flavour imaginable. Which isn't my favourite flavour, but I completely appreciate the amazing quality - it is absolutely nothing like the pale green celery at the grocery store. Delicious.

This is especially for you Atlantic Canadians - the Eat Atlantic Challenge is happening right now! Not only can you have the pleasure of eating all Atlantic Canadian food on September 2 and put your carrot on the map, but you just might win a lovely $250 basket of Atlantic Canadian food! I was tickled when I realized that it's the day after tomorrow, and also realized that we should easily be able to do the day with what we have in the house. Yay!


canning queen

I've had Dancing Queen stuck in my head for about a week. Except I change 'dancing' for 'canning'. I am such a dork. But aren't the results beautiful?I made Spiced Plum Butter, from my new favourite book, last night. It is gorgeous, isn't it?
On Saturday, I made ground cherry jam with the ground cherries from our CSA basket.

My name is Sherrie, and I'm a canning addict.

Edited to add: the ground cherry jam recipe I used is here.


fabulous friday

I have had a lovely day. Phillip woke up singing, the sun was shining, the clothesline promptly filled up with laundry, and we all had haircuts. (The stylist comes to us - it's an amazing arrangement!) I even had a chance to take some pictures of the beautiful sunflowers I picked up at the market last week.

I haven't yet been able to get a non-hilarious picture of Thomas in the Bumbo. Legs out straight, arms out - he was watching me stir the granola.

"Granola?" you say?

Yes. And yum.

We have a fun weekend coming up, I hope that yours turns out that way, too!


peach lavender jam

So. After a minor setback yesterday (in the form of a minor burn on my hand from some boiling water, but I'm fine now, thanks!) I was up and running on the canning train again today.

Peach lavender jam. Yum.

As you can see, the fruit floated to the top. I asked a canning-savvy friend what she though happened, and she suggested that perhaps chopping the fruit traps air, which causes it to float. So, even though the recipe calls for chopping, I might try crushing next time. I'm assuming that it will still gel in the same way. Also, the recipe says that this makes 6 cups; I ended up with 7.

Peach Lavender Jam
from the oh-so-excellent-and-you-should-buy-a-copy-book The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving. Please buy it for me for Christmas - I currently have it checked out from the library.

2 tbsp food-grade dried lavender flowers (available at Yarmouth Natural, if you're local)
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups finely chopped peaches (about 5-6 medium peaches)
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin

1. Place lavender flowers in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over flowers and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and discard flowers.

2. Combine lavender liquid, peaches, lemon juice, and sugar in a very large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pectin.

3. Ladle into sterilized jars and process for 5 minutes.

Makes 6 cups (1.5 L).

Yesterday's Bluebarb (blueberry and rhubarb) jam. It is divine, and the recipe is from the same book. Plum sauce is coming up, I think. And apples in a few more weeks! And pasta sauce! I'm addicted.



I made salsa. A very small batch for my first go, and it didn't quite fill the second jar. But a success (I think) nonetheless. Made with CSA basket tomatoes and green pepper, parsley from my windowsill, and the most beautiful organic red vinegar. Yay!

Although I've made freezer jam for the past several years, making 'real' jam or other preserves has somehow always seemed beyond what I'm willing to try. I know! I'll try making just about anything, but I think I have a somewhat irrational fear of jarring pure botulism and poisoning everyone I love.

This may stem from two incidents in particular: a freshly opened jar of pickles on a table whose contents, as I watched, started to rise up and climb out of the jar. The second was getting unpleasantly ill after having homemade pickles at a friend's house once. Not cool. My mother and I, as I've probably mentioned before, are at polar opposite ends of the domesticity continuum, so I never had the chance to watch her, or anyone else, do any canning. This probably adds to my insecurity. But this year, since we have our CSA subscription and freezer space is (as usual) at a premium, I've determined that I am a) going to try making proper cooked jam and b) make salsa. And possibly tomato sauce, if those go well. All of these things I usually make fresh, but since we have lots of pantry cupboard space, it would be really nice to have some things put away up there.
Part of my inspiration is The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving. I borrowed it from the library, and it is fantastic. Everything (including details on botulism prevention, of course) are in it, as well as recipes for every kind of preserve, pickle, chutney, conserve, and relish imaginable.
Canning central - the behemoth canning pot (yard sale!) for those two little jars of salsa seems a bit excessive, I know - but it's the only pot I have which is tall enough to get them covered with the right amount of water.
The salsa, cooking. It smelled amazing. Really amazing.
Now that everyone's canning and preserving, Bernardin must be doing very well. My only issue with this kit is with the magnetized lid-picker-upper - the magnet fell out in the pot! Tongs to the rescue. Otherwise, the jar lifter is perfect, as are the head-space measurer-thing and the funnel.

I'm feeling confident in my canning abilities and can't wait to make some ground cherry jam from our CSA haul, and something with plums. A chutney, perhaps?

My next victims...


herbs and pesto

We attended a birthday party for one of Phillip's friends yesterday. Turns out that in a wild overgrown part of their backyard, there was an abundance of peppermint! So naturally, I pulled some up and managed to get some roots. I potted them up last night, and they're looking perky. I also picked a giant handful, which I've just been nibbling away at. It's heavenly!

I love herbs. I had a subscription to The Herb Companion for a long time, and now I have piles of back issues to look through, since we're getting lots in our CSA basket most weeks. Last week, we had a beautiful bundle of purple basil.

Did you know that just sticking the bundle of herbs in a glass of water on the counter is the perfect way to store them? I did that with the basil, and finally got around to doing something with it this morning. I made a very simple pesto, whizzing it up in the blender with olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Unfortunately, Adam can't eat basil, so Phillip and I will be enjoying it. Unless it triggers some kind of allergic reaction in me - I ate a few leaves of regular basil the other day, which I have growing on the windowsill, and my tongue started to go kind of tingly and numb. Not sure if this is normal, or if it would be wise to dive into the pesto. If you don't hear from me soon...

I also have grand plans to make salsa and some non-freezer jams soon. Which - can you believe it - I've never done. Freezer space is at a premium this year, though, so I'm going to give it a go!

Hope you're having a great weekened!

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that after sitting in the water for a week on the counter, the basil had begun to sprout roots! So I tucked them in a pot, and an curious to see what will happen.


spiders and eats

We read Charlotte's Web to Phillip a couple of times over the past few weeks. I know I mentioned in an earlier post that he's a pretty clever kid - he's only three, and he will listen to us read books like that for a long, long, time. It makes me proud. (Side note: every time that mention is made of Wilbur being killed, we swapped it out for 'eaten'. Phillip knows that we eat animals. I don't really know how much he 'gets', but we leave it at that.) We're reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, too.
Adam (my amazingly talented and fantastically domestic husband) made these baked eggs in tomatoes from the current Everyday Food magazine the other night for supper. They're pretty good, but there are a few changes I'll make if I ever make them again. Some hot sauce and a bit more saltiness (maybe feta?) would be perfect. Aren't they cute, though?
I made the Joy of Cooking's waffles this morning. (If you don't have the book, it's definitely worth buying. I use it all of the time.) Waffles are a pretty common 'special breakfast' treat around here. I scored our waffle iron on Freecycle, over which I am tickled pink every time I use it. Today I discovered that a sprinkling of demerara sugar on the batter before cooking gives waffles an extra little crunch. Which I enjoy very much. Extra waffles can easily be frozen between layers of waxed paper and popped in the toaster to be reheated. Yum!

I think I like posting about food, because that's something that happens every single day. At least three times. We had some lovely company over yesterday, who graciously gave is a few hours' notice, so I whipped up this go-to cake. A hit, as usual. Even though we didn't have any whipped cream. And a giant thank you to Alli & D who came and stayed with us a couple weeks ago and made us an amazing Mexican breakfast of huevos rancheros! Amazing. They also brought us blueberries and peach wine, good company and taught us to play Settlers of Catan, a game I bought for Adam for Christmas and we hadn't played because we didn't know how. It's fantastic! One of my favourite things about summer is getting to visit with people. Especially when they come to us!

Hope you're having a great week!


the cutest baby and boy, possibly ever, beaches, and beanbags

Adam took these pictures of the boys at bath time. Speaking of my talented photographer husband, have a peek at his redesigned website and blog! I think it looks fantastic (I love the side scrolling!), and there are some gorgeous wedding shots in this post. Have a look!

Also speaking of the husband, he will be in Saint John at the end of September and is wondering if anyone would like to book a portrait session with him? Send him an e-mail (info at adamgrahamphoto dot com) if you're interested.

That is classic T in the top one. I'm having them printed on giant canvases so I can at least feel as though I've paused time. It's very cliché, but they're growing so fast! I don't want to miss any of it.
I jumped out of the car for a minute after dropping Phillip off at my mom's this morning, to take a picture of the beach very near to where I grew up. I spent a lot of time here when I was a kid.
I ordered these adorable beanbags, for P to play with, and they arrived on Friday. They are extremely cute, well-made, and numbered! He's already come up with about a hundred different games to play with them, and I'm sure there will be more. I think his favourite thing about them is that he's allowed to throw them inside. With supervision, of course.
Hope you had a pleasant Monday!


ground cherries and other matters of great importance

I feel as though I'm not doing blog justice to how lovely this summer has been. I suppose it's because I've been out enjoying it rather than writing about it.

Above: I asked Phillip to write a letter with his Window Writers (we love these!). He (completely independently and with no prompting) wrote both the P and the T. I know! He isn't really into drawing much, he prefers to make a bunch of squiggles and then figure out what they look like, so I was doubly impressed. He is indeed a clever boy. I try not to brag about him too much, but he's reading words. Sounding them out, if it's not one of the many, many sight words he knows. It's so much fun to watch.
At the market this morning, we picked up our CSA basket. Chock full of goodies, as usual.
These little tomatoes are delicious. Not to mention cute. And hey - if you happen to see me out and about and I don't know you already, please introduce yourself! Someone (hi!) approached me at the market this morning, asked me if I'm me, and told me how much she enjoys this blog. It's definitely not the first time (one of the advantages to living in a small town) and I love it!

We each had a maple scone from the market - along with some dark chocolate orange chocolate patties, these are our favourite treats.
These were the most intriguing things in this week's basket - ground cherries. If you have chinese lanterns in your garden, as we did (I think I managed to (purposefully) annilihate them with a tarp this summer) they look familiar.
You peel back the papery outer part, and there's a delicious treasure inside! Jeff, the guy at the market from Wild Rose Farm, told me that he knows someone who peels back the papery bit and dips them in chocolate. Yum! They're kind of tart and tomatoey and intriguing.
I made some soap the other day. A new type, available soon at Yarmouth Natural - Cinnamon Stick. Yum. A perfect fall scent. (No, I'm not ready for summer to be over, either.) I love it.
Remember this funny picture of Thomas' wiggly, long, middle-of-his-head-hair?Dr Seuss must have seen it, too!
True miscellany:

A kid's toothbrush makes the best eyebrow comb. The ones that you buy that are designed as eyebrow combs inevitably fall apart, but toothbrushes are designed to keep those bristles attached. My mother-in-law uses a regular one (she's clever) but I find a regular adult one is a bit too bulky, so I have a kids one. Perfect. Snoopy and all.

I wore a skirt today for the first time in years. Really, years. And I've had it on all day. If I come across more that I like, I just might make this a habit. I found mine at Frenchy's, of course, but just found it online for $100. Score!


Country Living

I received my September issue of Country Living in the mail a few days ago, and it is perhaps the best issue, ever. I have at least 10 page corners turned down, and I'm still not finished. I'm savouring it. And for me, that means that it's really, really good. It takes a lot to slow me down. They have a new format, which is fine - I do think that the new logo reminds me of Country Woman magazine's at my grandmother's house in the late 80's. But what's inside more than makes up for that.

Above is the simplest way to make honey butter. I usually just kind of mash it together, but this seems like a nice way to have some done up ahead. It is pure decadence on a popover; I'm sure it would be equally yummy on toast, or just about any other vehicle. Sweet and salty is my crack.

Some other lovelies from the issue:
Linens stretched over frames. I've always liked fabric pieces stretched, but hadn't particularly thought about table linens. Or other textured fabrics, especially in the same colour as the wall. Mmm, possibilities!
And I really, truly love this chair. Even at that rakish angle. Gorgeous. Adam doesn't think it would be comfortable, and I probably wouldn't be able to touch the floor, but it's beautiful.
And look! Instructions on how to make your own. Or, if you're like me and know that it would take waaay too long to get around to it, you can order one like mine from here. Seriously, if you enjoy lots of the same things that I do and you're not a subscriber already, you should pick up a copy of this issue - I don't think you'll be disappointed. OH! There is an INCREDIBLE complete renovation of a six-bedroom farmhouse that is amazing, too. And I haven't even finished reading it!
And lastly, (I took all of these pictures while sitting in the kitchen, having a cup of tea in a quiet house, (!) hence the lack of effort get get up off of the chair to get out of the sun or try for better angles. What a lovely day!) I bought these windchimes today. (For half price, of course.) Our yard is beautiful to see, smell, and feel, and now to hear, as well.


'round these parts

Phillip and I picked raspberries this afternoon. Yum.
And this is the perpetual state of P's box.
These weeds remind me of the pink licorice allsorts.
I usually try not to post blurred pictures, but this was the closest I could get to capturing Thomas' funny, wiggly hair. I call him Patches sometimes; his hair isn't quite evenly thick over his sweet little head.
P jumped from the picnic table seat at least a hundred times yesterday afternoon.
As usual. Thomas just watched in awe.
For the auntie who lent us the ubiquitous Bumbo - it really is great, and Thomas loves it. Thank you!