Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last day of 2009


Our family has decided to stay home tonight to bring in the new year. The kids each have a friend spending the night. Dinner will be a 'picky' affair with crackers, oysters, meats, cheeses, veggies etc.

For Christmas Son gave me a cocktail shaker. Hmmm... I had to figure out what to make as we normally only drink wine, scotch or beer, and get we fancy with a rum and coke. ( Though I did get really adventurous this summer and made some mojitos.) Vodka makes me really ill so I had to figure out what to do with that shaker!

Then along came Diamond Dame with her page of vintage cocktail recipes! As it turns out most drinks were not made with vodka until the 1950's. So I went to the local liquor store, list in hand, for supplies

So we tried a few already...

half measure dry white vermouth
2.5 measures gin
2 cocktail onions
Pour vermouth and gin into a glass with ice, stir and let chill for 30 seconds. Skewer onions on a cocktail stick and place in a cocktail (Martini) glass so onions rest at the bottom. Strain vermouth/gin into the glass.

(This was my favourite; but husband thinks it tastes like soap. I think it is an acquired taste.)

1 measure Cointreau
1 measure brandy/cognac
1 measure lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into sugar-rimmed cocktail (martini) glass and garnish with a strip of lemon rind.

(Very good - it tastes like a Marguarita without the slush)

Orange Blossom
equal parts gin and fresh squeezed orange juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail (Martini) glass

(Okay, but nothing to write home about)

Legendary 1930s recipe created at Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood as a hangover cure and became popular at the 1939 World's Fair in New York.
1 measure white rum
1 measure light rum
1 measure dark rum
1 measure apricot brandy
1 measure pineapple juice
1 measure papaya juice
½ measure 151-proof rum
Dash of grenadine
Shake all ingredients other than the 151-proof rum with ice. Pour drink and ice into a tall glass and top with the high-proof rum.

(All I can say is 'Yuck'... perhaps it would taste better if we used apricot brandy instead of normal brandy and had some papaya juice)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boxing Day Visitors

Yesterday morning we had three visitors to the acreage... a cow moose and her twins. They were all very large.

Luckily Daughter received a camcorder for Christmas so she was able to film the twins.

We were pretty surpised that they did a good checking out of our compost pile.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Blues

Unfortunately, the family have not been in much of a Christmas mood after Husband's mother passed away in September. Not even the kids seem to be in the spirit of the season, but we have been working hard to brighten our outlook and bring some semblance of Christmas into our household.

My Christmas baking has been very late this year, and most of what I prepare is missing because I have just not had the time. My work has been very busy over the past few months causing me to work many evenings. I did managed to make some fudge, whipped shortbread and anise cookies. I love the licorice taste of anise and found a great recipe at the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog. To make up for the lack of baking I purchased a Stollen from the German bakery and some other cookies.

Saturday was lovely sunny warm day and we drove out to one of the local Christmas tree farms and found a nice 2.5 metre (8 foot) tree. Below are some photos of the adventure.

A family photo with all of us in winter gear at the tree farm.

Today was -30c (-22f) again. Husband is baking gingerbread with the kids right now and I slipped away to blog and do a quick house cleaning.
It will be a quiet Christmas as our sisters and families will not be able to visit for Christmas this year. I will miss them all terribly. Tomorrow evening we will celebrate Christmas eve with my parents - having a fondue dinner and opening gifts from extended family. They in turn will come to our home for Christmas day and a turkey dinner (free range of course!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mac Attack

Our family has not stepped into a McDonalds restaurant since 2004. Yes, that's right we have been Mac free for almost 5 years!

After watching the documentary "Supersize Me" the kids refused to frequent McDonalds any longer (which was just fine with Husband and I). We were very impressed that our kids, ages 8 and 10 at the time, were able to recognize that lack of nutritional value in fast food meals and could made this decision on their own.

The other day a commercial for McDonalds appear on TV and it featured a Big Mac. I said to Husband "We haven't eaten at a McDonalds for 5 years and yet I can still vividly recall the taste and texture of a Big Mac". His comments was "Yeah... I wonder what they put in there to not only make you remember it, but also to want it."

We no longer frequent any fast food places that serve hamburgers and french fries. A decision we made as a family and we have all kept to it. I have tried to tempt the kids into it a couple of times to see what they say, and it is usually "Oh yuck! Can we get a pita instead?".
Daughter has made the confession that she went through the McDonalds drivethru with a friend's family... "but I only had a yogurt, honest!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baby Its Cold Outside

Yesterday morning's temperature... -36C (-33F)! It was cold, but I knew it was coming.... just as it does every year.

The hen house was fairly warm, but the watering containers froze. I took the hen's container into the house to thaw which took about an hour. One of the ducks decided to lay on the floor and the egg froze. I later found out that Husband when building the hen house did not insulate the floor, but did insulate everything else. We will make do and it doesn't usually stay this cold for extended periods.

I also found out that the new vehicle I purchased in November 2007 came without a block heater! Poor Husband was looking for the cord to plug in for quite a while before he finally gave up and nearly froze his fingers. Luckily the car did start in the cold. I took it to Subaru and it turns out that they forgot to install it. They quickly put in that afternoon at no charge and a huge apology (which I expected!)

Kaiser, our boxer, went out several times yesterday - but it was no surprise that he quickly wanted back in.

Today is already warmer at -24C (-11F)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Of Ducks and Eggs and Seed Catalogues

With the cold snap I feel bad leaving the hens and ducks indoors. But it is cold enough to partially freeze their watering containers inside even with the heat lamps.

Here is our henhouse in the snow. It is separated into compartments; the chicken are on the right and have the larger area, and the ducks have the left. In the middle are the nesting boxes which open and a small feed storage area. At the back each have their own runs - though when home we let them have free range in the yard.

We were not sure when the ducks would begin laying so we never built any nesting boxes for them. The are now laying about 4 eggs per day and have made their own nest in the loft area of their house. Yes, they are modern ducks with a ramp and loft!

Here you can see the drake with the dark head and tail feathers and the five hens. The ramp to the loft is on the left and the bottom of the heat lamp.

Some of our lovely eggs. We are getting about 2 dozen everyday.

Luckily we have a steady supply of egg buying customers - coworkers, neighbours and friends. We even have two people that buy our duck eggs. I was surprised at the duck eggs as they are white and around the same size as the chicken eggs. They taste better than the chicken eggs but do have a firmer texture.

When I tell people about our ducks I am always amazed at how many people exclaim "What? Ducks lay eggs?" and "You can eat a duck's egg?" Ducks are birds... I'm not sure how these people think they procreate. Perhaps I am too practical and take these things for granted.

On another note.... the first seed catalogue arrived in the mail today. They always come when we have a cold snap. I think it is to tease us.

Monday, December 7, 2009


The cold weather is upon us. We have been fairly lucky this year and it has been rather mild, but over the past few day the temperature has dropped. This morning it is -23c (-9f).

The other night Son was babysitting next door, and I walked over to bring him some dinner (it was a late dinner night for us and the young children he was looking after were already asleep). It was cold and dark and I had forgotten to bring the flashlight along - but it didn't matter. The sky was completely clear and the stars and moon were shining. I could see the Christmas lights on the neighbouring houses, and the tall trees were full of snow standing out against the night sky. It was so peaceful, and this is one of the reasons we moved into the country.

I like the cold weather and that may seem strange to many people. I have thought about the things that appeal to me:
  • I like to smell the smoke wafting from neighbouring homes that use wood to heat
  • I like to hear the squeek of boots on the snow when it is really cold
  • I like the way sounds are muffled by the snow
  • I like to watch huge snowflakes falling gently to the ground
  • I like to see the birds descend onto the Mountain Ash trees to eat the berries
  • I like seeing birds all puffed up to insulate themselves from the cold
  • I like to feel the squeeze of cold air on my lungs when the temperatures dip to -35c or lower
  • I like the coziness of looking out the window while I sit by the fireplace knowing that I am snug indoors
  • I like the way the snow sparkles on a sunny day - like it has been strewn with diamonds
  • I like to think of the homesteaders and pioneers that came before us, and marvel at how they managed in this climate with very basic necessities

For me Christmas is cold weather and snow - this is what I am used to. I spent two Christmases in Germany and it didn't feel right as there was no snow; just rain. I couldn't get into the holiday spirit as for me that most vital for the season was missing.