in the kitchen

Homemade yogourt in Weck jars in the fridge, next to plenty of eggs from the Farmer's Market, made me smile to myself all day.

I seem to have a lot of cookbooks. (Some aren't pictured.) Do you have a favourite recipe from any of my books that I need to make? Please share! I'm feeling adventurous. I love how cookbooks look, almost as much as what's in them - they seem to be a pretty lot, there on the shelf.

Adam's out, I think the boys are both asleep (they're quiet, anyway) and my brain is just shutting off for the evening. Nope - I take that 'quiet' comment back - T just started talking. In fact, his exact words were "Mama, Dadoo, Phillip. Mama, Sheeeeerrie!" It is so cute when he calls me by name. I'll be wrapping up some soap to send to Molly (sorry I didn't get it out last week, M!) as I watch something on Netflix. (Yes, probably Murder She Wrote.) Oooh, we finally started watching Downton Abbey the other night, and everyone who recommended it to me was right - it's glorious. Along with the good dialogue, plot, etc., the clothes are insanely beautiful, and the sounds are wonderful. Rustly book pages, clinking dishes, shoes on wood floors, and no plastic to be seen. Beautiful cinematography in the opening particularly, and the font and style of the credits is lovely. Mmmm. Those are the things I love in a show. (Does that make me strange, or does everyone else like those kinds of things, too? No, really - I don't know.)

I adore this spice rack. At that price, though, I don't think it will be mine any time soon.

Oh, hey - speaking of buying things - want to buy a house? Ours is still for sale! (And I love it more and more with every other house we go to see.)

I hope that you're having a pleasant weekend!


an un-storm day

I'm up before the boys, but still groggy. There's some nasty snowy/ice-pellety/freezing rain-y weather coming today, and I was hoping that it would be a snow day and I wouldn't need to go to work. But it's not. (The ice pellet stage is supposed to happen when the kids are safely at school and then it will turn to rain before they come home on the buses. I, however, need to drive all over the place during that time. I can cancel seeing the students and work at my office if it's too risky, though.)

Now I need to go and get all of Phillip's things ready for school that I didn't last night because I was SO hoping that it would be a snow day. Alas.

I took these breakfast pictures on the weekend. I love grapefruit.

Have a good Friday, and a lovely weekend!


homemade crackers!

You can make crackers, you know. (And it's really, really easy, if you have a food processor.) There are a lot of things that Adam can't eat, especially certain oils, and it seems like most of the grocery store options that he can eat taste like cardboard. Or else they cost more than a kidney on the black market. (Not that I would actually know what a kidney on the black market costs, of course.) With these crackers - problem solved! I use olive oil as the oil, they taste fantastic, are super inexpensive, use ingredients I have on hand, and I can flavour them however I like. And they are super quick to put together. How's that for a good deal?

I got the recipe from Kristin, and the original is here. I've changed it a little bit, so I'll give you my version:

Impress Your Neighbours Crackers
(mostly copied from and very slightly adapted from Kristin's adapted recipe, here.)
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup unbleached white)
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for the tops
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
few shakes of turmeric
few shakes of garlic powder
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold water (my dough needed 1/2)

  • Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until it's a coarse meal. (Kristin added a sprinkle of minced dried onion; I didn't have any on hand, but I'll bet it would taste fantastic!)
  • Beat the egg, oil and vanilla with a fork in a measuring cup.
  • Slowly add the oil, egg and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Pulse and scrape down (repeat) until it's a consistent texture.
  • Add the water, a little bit at a time, until it all forms one ball.
  • Put half of the dough on parchment paper, and using a bit of flour, roll it until it's thin. Cover it with plastic wrap (I actually didn't because my dough was damp enough that I didn't think it needed it), and put it into the fridge on a cookie sheet to keep it flat. Do the same with the other half. Leave them in there for half an hour or more.
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Take out one part of dough. Roll the slab thinner.
  • Prick it all over with a fork. Paint some water onto the dough. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Lightly roll the salt down so it sticks. Cut them into whatever shape you like - a pizza cutter worked really well to cut into squares.
  • Slide the parchment paper full of pre-crackers onto a pan, and place it in the oven. Watch them closely. Depending on your idea of "thin," they could take 8 to 25 minutes to cook. I copied Kristin and took off the outer (thinner) ones as they browned, then put the rest back in to cook more, repeating this process a couple of times.
  • Cool completely on a rack before storing in an airtight jar.
And Kristin's copied suggestions, because I love her style: "Instead of garlic and onion, try cheese. Or herbs. Or seeds. Or, you know, whatever floats yer boat. This is your cracker! Have a party." Have a party, indeed! Thanks, Kristin!

Has anyone else made crackers? Have a recipe or technique to share? Please do!


a roll

I seem to be on a thrifting roll lately. Today's finds: this beautiful bowl, and something else I've been hoping to find for a long time: a handmade surprise mug. Total: $2.30.

Phillip looked out of the window on Sunday morning and yelled, "Mama! A one-legged something was in our backyard!"

I hope you're having a good week. Mine has been full and busy, as usual. A lot of driving to and from students again this week. 10 degrees (celsius) and wet today - I was going to and from the car with no coat this afternoon (after the rain was done, of course.) This is January. And the snow pictured was from the weekend. Crazy.

Good night!


last one

They're long gone, now, but I had one more picture to share. Happy weekend!


star anise & licorice love

Hi folks!

I made some soap the other evening, and set aside some perfectly perfect star anise seed pods to take pictures of the next day. Aren't they gorgeous? (That's actually a little bit of soap smudged on the one in the bottom picture, oops.) If you're not familiar with star anise, it has a strong licorice flavour, and its extract is used as the flavouring in many black candy licorices such as the Panda brand ones. Chewing the seeds is good for digestion and fresh breath, and it tastes wonderful, if you like licorice. The seeds have a nice crunch that would be kind of awesome sprinkled on vanilla ice cream, now that I'm thinking about it.

Licorice root is an entirely different beast from a different plant. You can buy the root dried and in little pieces at most health food stores. I make a tea similar to the Aveda tea with it and a few other herbs. I blogged about it back in 2009. Just mix licorice root, mint, basil, and sweet fennel (leaves if you can find them). Steep for 5-7 minutes. The licorice root is lovely in a tisane - it makes it sweet but not overly licorice-y, which you might not expect. Seeing as how it's licorice and all. Yum.

Are you a licorice fan? I am, 100%. Can you tell? I went to Fox Hill Cheese House today for work, (well, I was in the area for work, and made a stop on my way home) and they had licorice gelato that made its way home with me. Yum! (Alas, they didn't have my favourite, coconut. Maybe next time!)

One other little bit of miscellany that's stuck in my head: I already wanted to go to Iceland. This video seals the deal (and I can't stop playing that song! I love it.)

Happy Wednesday!


hold on to your hats, and a recipe

 Okay, folks. Hold on to your hats.
 Okay, not that...

 Or those - but aren't they gorgeous?

Look at this:

Oh, yes. Found at Frenchy's after all of the other great things I posted last week. The lid is also a small skillet. It's a sweet little Le Creuset pot that we've already used a few times, after a day's worth of scrubbing and soaking to bring it back to its beautiful self. A Le Creuset piece is something that I have always dreamed of finding at a thrift store, and now it's happened! (I know that you're secretly a little bit jealous, and I don't blame you at all. I would be too. Come over, and I'll make something for you in it.)

Tonight's leftover meal (being reheated in it in the picture) is one of our favourite meals. I posted the recipe back in 2009 - it's Lentil Sloppy Joes. The boys inhale them, we love them, and they only get better the next day. They're vegan, filling, delicious, and even healthy. The original recipes is from a book of vegetarian slow cooker meals, and I've lost the name of it. If you know, please tell me! Here's the recipe again:

Lentil Sloppy Joes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 cups water, or more as needed - it tends to burn with too little water
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups cooked brown or green lentils, drained and rinsed
hot pepper sauce (optional)
toasted hamburger buns

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for one minute. Stir in ketchup, water, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add lentils and stir well.

2. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until hot and bubbling. Add hot pepper sauce to taste, if using. Ladle over hot toasted buns and serve immediately.

You can also bake this in the oven at 375 for an hour and a half or so, and if you're not set on it being vegan, you can top it with shredded cheese.


After a full weekend, it's back to work tomorrow. We had an open house yesterday, and we're having another next weekend, so who knows? Maybe something will come of that. Have a good week!


thrifted treasures and a funny kid (no smiling!)

I found this Better Home and Gardens 'New' Cookbook at Frenchy's and couldn't pass it up. Jessica Fletcher has one on the top of  her fridge, you know. (And they even move it around from episode to episode! I love that.) Most  of the recipes are a can of this and a package of that, add some luncheon meat and you're all set. But there are some cookies recipes and this Breakfast Cocoa one that are pretty decent. It was delicious. Perfect snow day fare.

How could you not find that greenish jell-o salad kind of awe-inspiring?

And I also found these little goodies at Frenchy's:
 500 mL wide mouth Ball canning jars. We can't buy the Ball brand here in Canada; Bernardin is the Canadian equivalent. But I like the way 'Ball' looks on the jar so much better, and this is a great size.
 A Brody (made in USA) planter (intended for a vase?) for a peperomia prostrada plant that I have yet to find or buy.
And the  best of all - a gorgeous handmade teapot in perfect condition. Not a nick, chip, or crack to be found! I was especially thrilled with this one, especially since it was only $3.
Phillip put these signs on the living room doors. He later said that it's okay for his friends to smile in the living room, but no one else.

Happy Thursday from our snow-bound house to yours!


monster in the rain

 "A Clown" by Phillip
 "Monster in the Rain", also by Phillip.

 Set this kid loose with some art and craft supplies, and he is one happy boy.
And the amaryllis is still beautiful; two double blooms, with another on the way.
Happy Wednesday!



My sweet mother-in-law brought me two kilograms (close to 5 pounds) of dates when they were here at Christmas. (She shops at Costco.) So - do you have a great way that you like to use dates? Preferably not in a cake, although Queen Elizabeth cake is one of my favourite cakes in the world. I'm thinking that I should expand my date horizons. Something healthy that Phillip can take to school in his lunch - maybe a bar, square, snack ball, or something else entirely that I haven't thought of? Maybe a savoury use? I haven't searched for recipes yet; I know that you guys have some good ones. Thanks in advance!

Also, thanks so much for your concern about my sickly self! I'm feeling quite a bit better, and am still waiting to hear from the doctor. In the meantime I'm laying low and thinking about making all kinds of good stuff when I'm back to my usual self, hence the date plans. Have a good Tuesday!


little walk

We went for a (much-needed by me) short walk down by the harbour yesterday in the sun. The fresh air was wonderful and smelled a bit like spring, and the sun was definitely restorative.

I'm just waiting to hear back from my doctor on my bloodwork; hopefully I'll know soon exactly what I have. In the meantime, I'll keep up my tea habit and my laying around one, too.

Have a great week! Go enjoy a walk somewhere beautiful, okay?


spending time

Happy Saturday! While spending some time lying still and trying not to swallow too often, I've come across some things I thought were worth sharing.

Toys and play. This post on the basics of Waldorf education is a great explanation of exactly what I value in play and preschool education. I've never been trained in Waldorf education or even visited a Waldorf school (one of the downsides of living in a very small rural town) but everything about it just makes perfect sense to me and what I know about child development (which I have been trained in).

These are brilliant. In the same kind of "Why didn't I think of that?" way that Post-its are brilliant. And perfect for hanging a certain 4 year old's art work.

I love just about everything over at A Sonoma Garden. If you're looking for a slightly different version of the lotion recipe I posted awhile back and make regularly, this one is done entirely in a single jar and has no added water. Which equals much less mess and cleaning time, and potentially a more stable lotion. When my current stash runs out, I'm absolutely making some.

Hummus. Mmmm. (You can pre-order Marisa's book now! I can't wait for my copy to arrive.)

Sundried tomatoes packed in oil. They sound SO tasty right now!

Greek yogourt crème brûlée. I'm curious to try it and see if it's comparable to the real thing.

This is so cute. (Austen sent me the link yesterday, knowing that I was home sick yet again. How sweet is that?)

If I opened a general store (which would be AWESOME), it would look like this.

Have you found something that rocked your world lately? Please share! Have a great weekend.



 So. Apparently the last round of antibiotics didn't hear my wish for a healthy 2012, and didn't do the trick. Back to my doctor this morning (thankfully, was in and out in no time) who sent me for bloodwork, another throat swab and a new round of antibiotics and thinks that I may have mono. Mono! So I'm resting at home, enjoying these beauties and thinking healthy thoughts. I hope that your week is germ free!