Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve, the Year, and Another Cracker Recipe

I can't believe we are already at the end of 2011! 

We had a quiet Christmas - just the four of us and my parents.  Husband has been ill for most of the holidays and is just beginning to be up on his feet and moving around again.  The kids have both been working at their jobs over the holidays and really haven't been home much.  Son works at McDonalds which is funny since he hasn't eaten at a McDonalds for about 6 years... and still doesn't.  Daughter is working at a gift store and worked 11 days straight before Christmas and then right back again on Boxing Day.

2011 seems to have been a year where no matter what we did we couldn't seem to get ahead.  With the terrible winter and summer we didn't manage to get the barn finished, many crops in the garden didn't produce and it was just a downer in general for our moods.  Financially the year was also a strain due to the renovations on the rental house (after being left in very rough shape by the last tenants). And now it has been sitting empty for the past 6 months for the renos and listing.  Hopefully it will sell quickly in the new year - it is in a good neighbourhood and is looking nice now, so I'm optimistic.

Over the past few days I have been working on getting some year end paperwork completed, and Husband has been working on a new budget for 2012.

Tonight will be a quiet one as well, as both kids are working (Son on a midnight shift and Daughter babysitting for the neighbour).  I have been baking crackers for this evening snacks.  I've tried a new recipe from 50's Gal blog, but something was missing from the ingredients she listed so I adapted it somewhat...

Cheese Crackers
1/2 c butter
2 cups cheddar cheese (I used medium but sharp would be better)
1 1/2 c Flour
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t paprika
1/3 c milk

Put dry ingredients into a bowl and cut in the butter. 
Add milk and combine and form dough into a ball
Roll out dough on a floured surface until 1/8" thick and cut out
Place crackers onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
Bake at 325F for 15 minutes
Remove and place on rack until cooled

I wish you all a very wonderful New Years Eve - be safe and if you are going out make sure you have a designated driver who is not drinking.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Lately I have been focusing on baking crackers.  In an effort to save some money (though purchased crackers are not expensive) and, more importantly, continue to eat healthy I decided to try out some cracker recipes.  They are so easy to bake with ingredients everyone has on hand, I don't know why people even bother to buy them.

These were made with rye flour and should be like a swedish crisp bread, but the recipe  needs some tweeking as it was too sweet tasting for my family and didn't get very crisp.  They were definiately not to our taste, but the chickens enjoyed them very much (nothing is going to waste here!)

Herb Crackers mmmm buttery and yummy. The recipe was found here when I did a google search for recipes.

1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of margarine or butter
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, basil, and thyme. Mix in the butter or margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Add the milk and stir until it forms a solid ball.
Knead dough on a lighlty floured surface.
Roll out the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into cracker sized pieces. Makes about 24 crackers.
Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, after 10 minutes turn them over and bake for another 5 minutes.

The best crackers EVER!!!!  This recipe comes from Mrs Lyle and was posted the Mother Earth News website with their cracker recipes.

Delicious Homemade Crackers

makes about 50-60 crackers

2 c. all purpose flour (I prefer unbleached)
3/4 c. whole wheat
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp (or more) cracked black or freshly ground black pepper (opt.)
1 c. seeds (flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower combo is fantastic)
1/2 c. butter (unsalted is best, imo)
3/4 c. milk (more or less)
1/2 c. to 2 c. finely shredded cheese (opt.), parmesean is delish

Mix dry ingredients except seeds, cut in butter. Mix in seeds and cheese (if using). Add milk, squeezing with hands, to form into ball.
(Add flour if too wet, more milk if too dry.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Divide into thirds and roll out with rolling pin on floured
surface of wax paper to about 1/16 of an inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and roll to press onto dough. Prick with fork all over
to reduce uneven bubbling during cooking. Use pizza cutter to cut into shapes (diagonals are good) or tear into rough-edged pieces the sizes you
desire. Bake in pre-heated oven, 325 degrees on lightly greased baking sheets/pans or, preferably, parchment paper.
Turn crackers over after 10-15 minutes and bake another 5-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Photos 1951

When my mother-in-law passed away we were left with boxes of photographs.  Husband's sister said we should take the photos home, pull out what we wanted and she would go through the leftovers at a later time.

Last night instead of watching television we decided it would be fun to go through one of the boxes.  Many photos were of our wedding, the kids, sister-in-laws wedding and pictures of modern time, but there were also a stack of pictures ranging from the late 1920s into the 50s.  I though I would share 2 photos that I liked.

Husband grew up in a small village in the interior of British Columbia called Little Fort (previously called Mount Olie).  His family came to the village in the 1920's and his sister still resides there.  I find it interesting that he and his sister attended the same one room school house that his grandmother and mother attended.  The school closed a few years ago and I have to wonder how many small one or two room schools there are nowadays.

These photos are stamped Feb 2 1951 and that winter must have been quite severe for someone wanting to capture them on film.

This first photo shows a snowplow on the street in front of the community hall.  Husband said the hall burnt down and another built in its place, which was also consumed by fire shortly after being buit.  The third community hall built on the property is further back from the road and still stands.

I love this photo of a woman hanging laundry in the snow.  I assume this photo is of Husband's grandmother, but I'm not sure as it is difficult to see her face.  I guess this picture gets me thinking that I have a clothes line that I use in summer, but I never hang out laundry in the winter and always use the dryer... I think I should try it sometime!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vintage Finds of the Week

I love to look for vintage items by browsing through the thrift stores.  I think it is so much fun because one never knows what will be found.  Usually I walk away with nothing, but today several items found their way home with me.

With Christmas fast approaching I am always on the lookout for a tablecloth large enough to fit my dining table.  I found this vintage print one which is 80x58 and just fits!  I quickly placed it on the table for size when I snapped the photo hence the fold lines.  I'm very happy that there are no stains or holes!

On Wednesday we are hosting a Christmas party for Husband's office executives.  I've been wondering what to make for appies and this will help.  A box of Bridge Set cookie and sandwich cutters.  I have no idea the age of this set but am really happy that they are in the original box which I keep and make sure it remains in good condition (if you happen to know the era of this item please let me know!).  Later today I will be looking for some fancy sandwich/canape recipes

I have been looking for a serving tray for a long time and have never came across one that I particularly liked, but this lovely mid-century modern teak tray fit the bill.

And last but not least, another vintage cookbook to add to my collection (copyright 1970, this edition 1974)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Great Kitchen Design

I am in need of reorganizing my kitchen.  I have a huge kitchen with lots of counter space, but sensible organization of my cupboards is lacking and I have been wanting to do some sorting/reorganizing for quite some time.

Yesterday I came across this great video from 1949 which has really gotten me inspired.  There are some wonderful ideas here.  I wish I would have seen this before we designed the kitchen as I really want that hole in the counter top for scrap depositing for compost and chickens.  Somehow I don't think Husband will allow me to cut a hole in the counter top now :(

I have some things to think about and a project for the weekend.  I know I can get the kitchen to work better than it currently does.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Like to Call it Suelze

I don't know if I'm fooling anyone, but the German word Suelze just sounds so much better than headcheese!
Anyway, when we had the pigs butchered we got everything back including the head, heart, feet, fat, etc, etc, etc. so I decided to use it all!  (I was also donated extra parts from the other people that shared in our pig venture, because they don't have the stomach to deal with it)
I was at home today so I dug out some parts from the freezer and began cooking.  I looked through my vintage cookbooks and online to find recipes for headcheese, but found they varied so much in regard to spices and preparation methods, so I just headed out on my own (Oh! no pun intended)

If you are the queasy sort, you may not want to continue reading....

1) Boil  1/2 pig's head, feet, tongue and heart in the largest pot I could find in slightly salted water for about 3 hours
If it looks like an ear, it's because it is.

2) After boiling, remove head, feet, tongue and heart from water and place in a separate bowl.  I then put the bowl in the cold garage to cool down.

3) After cooling comes the time to pick through the items for the good meat and put it in the food processor and I chopped it rather coarsely.  I think most people would it a very gross experience, but I actually found it rather interesting (luckily I don't gross out easily).  Most of the meat is in the head and the heart and tongue just needed a little trimming.  The feet have virtually no meat, but rather bring the gelatin to the dish.

4) Place the meat into a smaller pot and ladled some of the first cooking liquid into the meat (about 4 cups - I'm not sure as I didn't measure).  To the mixture I added one chopped onion and approx 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.  I then added one of the pigs feet back in. 

5) Add spices - I used salt, pepper, a lot of sage and about 1/2 t of chili powder.  Boil until the onion is cooked.

The meat mixture being brought to a boil 


5)  Remove from heat and remove the pig foot then pour into a loaf pan.  Put in fridge to cool and set.

Mixture in the loaf pan

I unmolded from the pan and it was not a firm as I expected - more like a pate.

The Suelze turned out very good, but it is very rich so you can't eat a lot of it.  It is very tasty eaten with some crackers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My morning

Look at what greeted me this morning...

At least 2 feet of snow (60 cm) and it is still snowing. Of course this has to arrive while Husband is out of town.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Company Jump - Tribute to the Andrews Sisters

Today is Rememberance Day and we had tickets to see Company Jump - Andrews Sisters Tribute which was being performed in our city.

Husband and I (and the kids too) are big fans of the music from the 1940s and we usually have it playing in the house via Sirius Satellite Radio's '40s on 4' channel.  I think there was only one song played at this evening's performance that I didn't recognize, otherwise I was able to sing along (silently of course!). 

Anyway, this was a wonderfully entertaining performance featuring music of the era and a lot of comedic banter.  If you are a fan of the Andrews Sisters or 40s music and ever have a chance to see Company Jump, I urge you to go!  It is well worth the cost of the ticket.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Soup recipe and Immersion Blender

Winter is fast approaching and we had snow over the weekend again.... but this time it stayed :(

With the colder weather I feel like making soup to take the chill away.  I rarely make soup in the warmer months, but it is soooo good at this time of year.

I tried a new recipe to use up the last of the red tomatoes from the garden.  This recipe is from the Nourishing Traditions The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon.  If you haven't seen this book/cookbook you really must as it is chock full of recipes and information on cultural diets, nutrition, and ingredients. It is super interesting!

Tomato-Dill Soup
Serves 6

2 medium onions, peels and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
3 T butter
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 t dried green peppercorns, crushed sea salt or fish sauce
1/4 c snipped fresh dill
piima cream or creme fraiche

Saute onion and celery gently in butter until tender.  Add tomatoes and stock, bring to a boil and skim.  Add crushed peppercorns.  Simmer about 15 minutes.
Puree soup wint a handheld blender.  Thin soup with a little water if necessary, and season to taste.  Stir in the dill.  Simmer gently about 5 minutes, ladle into heated bowls and serve with cultured cream.

I didn't have an immersion blender as the one I had received from my mother-in-law (a 1980's vintage model) began smoking the last time I used and I promptly put it in the trash.  I didn't use it much anyway as it didn't have enough power to make it worth the effort.

After several months of debating whether I should purchase a new one, I finally broke down and came home with a Kitchen Aid model.  In the store I really looked over the various models which ranged from $10 to $80.  Of course the Kitchen Aid was the most expensive, but upon closer inspection I could see why.  The blade was twice as long as the other models (giving more cutting/blending surface), the motor power was adjustable, and in general it just seemed much sturdier.  I would rather spend the money on something that will work properly and will not have a planned obsolenscence.  So far I have been extremely happy with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and I hope the blender will give me the same good results.

So far I have used it for blending the soup in the above recipe, smoothies, hummus, and chopping/blending kale and cream a dish for last night's dinner.  (If you like kale this dish is awesome... I will post it another time after I have translated it from German)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday in Pictures

Last day of the pigs.  They had their "appointment" today.

The geese don't mind the snow

The new flock of ducks.  The mallard is on the far left.

The geese decided that the fences are down and they are allowed in the garden. 

Quickly harvesting the leeks.  Also picked the kale, carrots and parsnips.

The Plymouth Barred Rocks in their new pen


Friday, October 28, 2011


Our freezer is full.  The meat birds and one goose were brought to the mobile processing unit yesterday.  Husband and I had to get up at 5:00 am to get the hens into some cages to bring them to the processor.  With an hour's drive we were the first to arrive at 7:30am only to be met by a friend who was the second to arrive.  It was quite a surprise running into her there as she drove into town from McBride - who would have thought we would have made the appointments on the same day.

The unit was interesting and full of stainless steel - since we were the first people there we got a tour!  I was very happy to see on one of the signs "Make sure to treat the animals humanely" 

Upon arriving home Husband went out to feed the geese and the gander promptly nailed him.  He was bitten quite hard.  I think the gander was afraid he was next in line for processing.  Of course when I went out the gander was as gentle as usual with me (goose love).

I don't think that I mentioned that we sold all of the Americauna chicks that we hatched in the spring.  Our intention was to keep them, but after having the Plymouth Barred Rock and discovering how calm they are, we decided that the flighty Americaunas are not our preferred breed.  So, I placed an ad on Kijiji and sold them all for $10 a piece about 2 months ago and I am still getting inquiries from people wanting to buy them.

We have been in a quandry as to what to do with your old laying hens.  I mentioned it to one of my clients and they said that they would take them even though they are already three years old. Once they build their henhouse I will deliver the hens and Lucky.

The Barred Rock are great and the rooster (the other 3 went to the processor) has begun crowing.  It sounds so funny sort of like a muffled trumpet.  We have one teeny tiny hen in the batch and she is about a quarter the size of the others, but she is tough as nails and is always the first to the food and water.

Tomorrow I will be cleaning out hen house and outside pens and moving the Barred Rock into the side where the old layers are to get them settled.  The have not begun laying yet, but at least they will be in the side with the nest boxes.  The old layers will go on the other side until my client's are ready to accept them - it shouldn't be a problem without the nest boxes as they are only laying 2-3 eggs a day with the darker days.

At the end of July the fox ate Donald our drake Khaki Campbell.  The duck hens seemed so lost without him, so I began looking around for another drake.  On Kijiji someone had advertised a FREE Khaki drake, but to get him I would also have to take a Mallard hen.  They joined our flock at the end of September and seem to be doing very well.  At took a liitle bit to get them acquainted with our existing hens, but they get along rather well now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Leeks; the Forgotten Vegetable

Our leeks did very well this year.  Obviously a vegetable that likes lots of water.
I have never seen such large leeks grown here before

 Tonight's side dish is Braised Leeks from the "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook by Sally Fallon

Braised Leeks

6 medium leeks
2 cups beef stock
1 cup grated Gruyere cheee (which I don't have so I will use some Parmesan)

Trim ends of leeks and split lengthwise.  Rinse well and set ina pyrex pan.  Bring beef stock to a boil and pour over leeks.  Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour or until the stock has reduced and leeks are tender.  Sprinkle on cheese and melt under broiler for a few minutes.  Serve immediately

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm Back

I know that I have been absent for quite some time.  It has been a busy and stressful summer.  First off, we have had the most rainy summer I have ever experienced.  This led to numerous problems situations that we have had to work around: 

First off we did not get the barn finished as we had intended as our property is mainly clay and to try to work around in the mud was just no fun.

With the barn not finished our animals have had to reside in makeshift pens and were shuffled several times to different areas.  Husband did finish the portion of the barn that hooked to the hen house, so we were able to get some permanent quarters for the geese and ducks. The old duck half of the hen house was taken over by the new laying hens (Plymouth Barred Rock).  The upper portion of this 'barn section' can now house the hay, and we managed to get most of that out of the garage (yeah! more room)

The pigs have been moved three times now.  One earlier post shows what should have been their permanent pen.  Unfortunately with the relentless rain the entire area became a huge mud pit with the muck reaching the pigs bellies in some places.  We worried that they would become ill or get some kind of foot disease, so we moved them once again.

Most of the garden didn't get weeded on a regular basis because it was just too wet and the water was sitting in the pathways.  A lot of our garden plants did not produce this year because of the weather, yet some did surprisingly well.

I seem to have made quite a bit of jam this year - grape, black currant (from our gardens) and apricot (from a coworker's brother who lives in the Okanagan).

We had several sets of visitors over the summer.  My penpal from Germany and her husband came to stay for a few days during their holiday to BC and Alberta.  It was so great to finally meet her!

It took me three months to get our rental house finished and it was listed for sale last Friday.  With that complete I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I think that has caused me the greatest stress - trying to get the house repaired, painted and updated (Thank you Dad for all your help!) and the continual discovery of more damage caused by the last tenants not noticed on their departure.

We managed one day as a family holiday in which we travelled to Barkerville.  We all love visiting the historic gold rush town of Barkerville.

Husband and I also managed to get away to Kelowna for a few days in September.  It was a holiday for me but he had to work.  We drank lots of great Okanagan wine.  I know that most people don't associate Canada, or specifically British Columbia, with wine but we actually produce top quality wines in the Okanagan region.  I did a lot of walking around the hotel, downtown and the lake.   The weather was surprisingly good - rain overnight, overcast in the mornings and sunny and warm in the afternoon.

Husband also started a new job over the summer.  He has more stress but will not be out on the road as much which is a good thing because I always worry.

So that was about it for my summer (or lack thereof). Hopefully next year we will actually get some sunshine.  Now onto winter....

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Snow

Yes, you read that correctly. We had our first snowfall this morning. Luckily it did not stay and the sun came out in the afternoon.

I thought the pigs would be interested in the snow being such curious creatures, but no they were much more interested in the pail of donated apples

Friday, September 9, 2011


With our wet, cold summer the garden hasn't been doing very well.  The peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, zucchini and leek are growing in abundance (obviously liking all the rain) and the rest of the produce growth seems pretty stagnant. 

The one huge surprise is GRAPES!  Though in our climate we have to cheat so the vines are in the greenhouse.  Husband planted them and this is the third year of growth.  Last year I think we shared 5 grapes between the family.  But this year we will have a bumper crop!  Grape jelly is soon to be on the way...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm gonna kill that fox....

I am so frustrated that I couldn't sleep last night and ended up crying this morning.... maybe it's hormones, but most likely it's that damn fox!

He's been around a lot over the past month sneaking off with the odd hen.  Well I thought it was only one or two hens until I actually took count down by the hen house and we appear to be missing a lot of hens.  Then a few weeks ago our favourite rooster, Cockzilla, went missing one evening.  We searched and searched, but I knew when he wasn't on his roost by 6:30pm that he was a gonner.

Last night Donald, our drake Khaki Campbell duck, went missing.  The three remaining duck hens were wandering around aimlessly without him leading them.  Donald NEVER leaves his girls so I know that fox got him as well.

I like fox, but this has to stop, as I can't continue losing my livestock.  Son and Husband are prepared to shoot him if they see him on the property.  Until then I have to keep all the poultry locked up (no free ranging) which I hate to do.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rain and Rentals

While the rest of Canada and a large portion of the US are experiencing heat waves, our province had had weeks and weeks and weeks of rain. There has been a lot of flooding and several highways have been closed at times because of washouts.

My garden desperately needs to be weeded, but the soil is so wet it is hard to get in there and the pathways are filled with water. Considering the rain, I was very pleased to see that our strawberry plants are loaded with fruit... if only we could get a few days of sunshine we will have a bumper crop.

The weekend's weather was better (meaning no rain) and husband has been working on the barn build again. The barn was started last autumn but it seems we rarely have time to work on completing it. Plus working in the muck is not very inspiring.

I haven't been doing much on the acreage over the past couple of weeks. My time has been devoted to cleaning, repairing and painting our rental house. The last tenants left a mess and quite a lot of damage. It was very disappointing, and I am getting the house ready so it is in good condition to sell. After years of having rental properties we are done.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In the Kitchen

This morning has started as a very dreary day.  As I look out the window the rain is pouring outside, but luckily when I went to feed and water the animals it had slowed.  The past few weeks have been very wet and the highway north of us has been closed for 2 weeks due to numerous slides and washouts over a very long stretch of the road.  They just reopened for a small portion of traffic and today it is expected to get another 100mm or so rain (heavy rain fall warning).

So a wet dreary day means I can do lots of work in the kitchen....

Yesterday I purchased some beef bones, so I roasted them in the oven and began cooking them last night.  I have them simmering on the back of the stove again together with some onions, celery leaves, bay leaves and peppercorns this morning.  It should make for a nice starter for tonight's dinner.  I added a splash of vinegar as that is suppose to help draw out minerals from the bones.

I'm not sure what else I'll add to the soup - maybe some barley together with carrots, celery and potatoes.  Perhaps some lovage from the garden for extra flavour (I'll go out and brave the rain)

I know I will have to bake some bread today and most likely I'll also start up some more yogurt. 

I purchased some organic almonds and soaked them overnight in water with some salt.  First thing this morning I drained them and placed them in my food dehydrator.  I have been reading that we should soak our nuts before eating them so as to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and break down the gluten so digestion is easier.  Husband can not tolerate nuts though he loves them, so perhaps by soaking he will be able to eat a few.  We can only give a try and see (and hopefully he won't end up with a bad stomach ache.)

I have to take Daughter to the shopping centre later, so I was thinking to pick up some chinese cabbage and put some Kimchi to ferment.  I enjoy Kimchi and haven't made it for a while.  I already have the Daikon radish and all the other ingredients so I may as well make it now.  There are so many variations of Kimchi - here method that I use, but in addition of the cabbage I also add Diakon radish and carrots cut into matchstick strips...

Afternoon Update: Below is my completed Kimchi waiting to begin the fermentation process on the counter

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday in Pictures and Commentary

Foxglove - my favourite flower but unfortunately doesn't grow in our climate.  So what is doing in the flowerbed?  Well, Husband started some foxglove seeds last year and they all died off with the exception on a couple which I planted in front of the house (south facing) to catch the heat.  It grew but did not produce any flowers.  In it the fall I didn't pull it out and the deep snow must have kept it fairly insulated.  This spring it started to grow again and now it has flowered!  I love it and so do the bees!

The front flowerbed has finally filled in with perennials - it is looking rather pretty with all the pink flowers!

The new permanent pig pen is finally complete!  The pigs are loving it as there is greenery (almost completely mowed down now) and lots of space to play.

This morning's collection of eggs.  Look at that huge one in the middle! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Old Cookery - Steamed Pudding

As I have mentioned previously in posts, I love collecting old cookbooks, reading old recipes and trying them out too.  Oh, and eating them doesn't hurt either (as to which my waist can attest and that's not a good thing)

Last week I decided that I really wanted to try baking an old English type steamed pudding.  I have never eaten one before and really didn't know much about them or the cooking method.  So I searched out some old recipes then read about the methodology online.

What I found was there are two types of steaming methods:
1) to place and seal the ingredients in a bowl and then place in a pot of water with lid and boil
2) to place and seal the ingredients in a bowl and then place in a pot with boiling water and bake in the oven

I also discovered that even though the recipe is called 'pudding' it is not like pudding as I know it (a custard like consistency), but rather a very moist cake.  There are many types of pudding moulds and even pudding moulds with lids.  The ingredients must remain sealed so as to prevent any outside moisture from getting in.

I still have a number of jars of mincemeat left over from what I canned last year so I searched for a steamed pudding using that ingredient.  I figured there must be something....
and of course I found it on the 18th C Cuisine blog:

Baked Mincemeat Pudding

2 cups mincemeat [I used homemade, brandied mincemeat]
4 eggs
1/2 cup [1 stick] butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: chopped nuts, about 1/2 cup [I did not use]

Cream butter and sugar; beat in one egg at a time. Sift dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture. Fold in mincemeat and nuts, if using. Butter and sugar a baking dish [charlotte mold works well] and pour batter in. Cover with a piece of greased paper to fit top of dish. Set dish into another larger dish and surround with boiling water [bain marie], place in moderate oven [350ºF] and bake for at least one hour.

Continue to check for doneness by inserting a broom straw in the middle--if it comes out clean, the pudding is done. Remove from water bath and allow to cool before running a knife around the edge and slipping from the pan onto a serving platter.

Can douse with more brandy and flambé or serve with dessert sauce [Sabayon: 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup Marsala. Whip over a boiling water bath (Bain Marie) until thick. Serve over pudding slices.] Pudding texture and taste improves with age.

So, here is a photo of my completed pudding which took 3 hours in the oven to set.  It may not look like much but is tasted very good - rich and dense but not too sweet.  My family loved it.  As a bonus it was actually very easy to make - I was rather intimated to try it as I have not tried steaming anything before.  The ingredients came together quickly, I sealed the glass bowl tightly with tin foil, put in a second pan with water and let it bake.  Simple!

This week I'll be making Rhubarb Steamed Pudding.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day! 
 It's Canada 144th Birthday!

My family's usual Canada Day festivities are celebrated at the large park downtown where there is live entertainment and FOOD.  Yes, booths featuring foods from many different nations.  Unfortunately, today's weather was hit and miss with rain and Husband didn't want to go.  Daughter volunteered to do face painting for the Multicultural Society and she spent most of the afternoon at the park. Son and I decide to dine on Philipino food this year.

Husband hit the lumber store and the began expanding the henhouse to accommodate that new chickens and geese.  He also started putting in the fence for the place where the pigs will go (if you remember we only had a temporary pen for them).

I visited the local thrift store and bought 3 pairs of jeans and a pair of dress pants.  I always have trouble finding pants that fit, so to find 4 pair in one day is amazing!  A skort and a glass juice jug also came home with me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Don't See This Very Often...

Over the past two years or so I have been collecting vintage cookbooks. What I like are pre-1960's books because I like to see the thrift and old cooking methods that were once employed by homemakers of the past.

I recently visited the local Value Village and came across an older book published in 1968 - "The American Every Day Cook Book in Color". I originally picked it up because it looked old, but bought it only because it was authored by Marguerite Patten.

If you are unfamiliar with Marguerite Patten she is a British home economist who has authored around 170 books.  Durring the Second World War she assisted the British government's Ministry of Food in educating the public in rationing and invented nourishing recipes from the foods available at the time.

So, of course I needed to have this book in my collection even though it was published in the 1960's.  Upon looking at the recipes there were many things that struck me as being from before the '60s such as this recipe for Mulligatawny soup (and you don't see this very often)...

I don't know about you, but I have never seen a recipe requiring you to simmer a small lamb's head in any modern cookbooks.  In fact, I'm not sure if my butcher even stocks small lamb's heads... maybe I'll ask next time I visit the shop.

Anyway, the book surprised me with the thrift and use of ingredients(?) that nowadays we no longer use or would even think of using.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I have extremely bad cracked heels and have suffered this condition for the past several summers.  Once I begin wearing sandals and open backed shoes my heels split, bleed, and develop deep cravasses.  I have tried everything including very expensive moisturizers containing urea (yes that means pee - luckily a synthetic one in this case) especially developed for split heels.  Nothing has worked so far, and I continue to suffer.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a BubbaTanicals podcast and he mentioned that the best thing to moisturize skin is petroleum jelly.  Duh, of course I forgot to try the least expensive method!  Well I ran out to the store and purchased a big tub for the paltry sum of $2.99, and guess what.... IT WORKS.  I slathered it on my heels and then put on some socks and within a couple of days my heels have healed!

I don't think I would use petroleum jelly for moisturizing anything else as it is very thick and greasy.  I'm really not familiar with the product and I didn't even use it when the kids were babies.  But for my heels that is the way to go!

For that past year or so I have been moisturizing my face and hands with coconut oil after reading about it on Crunchy Chicken.  I think the jar I purchased was around $12.95 and it has lasted me over a year now.  I was surprised that the oil is actually semi solid and then melts at body temperature (of course on a hot summer day it turns to liquid).  I've been really pleased using it as it is not too greasy and fairly light on my skin.  Unfortunately I haven't noticed any wrinkle reduction as Crunchy experienced :( 

Coconut oil appears to have a lot of health benefits and is antimicrobial.

My jar of coconut oil is almost out, so I purchased a new jar from the health food store.  Imagine my shock to find that a year later the price had doubled!  I guess it is another victim (or perhaps I should say we are the victims) of global food inflation.  Still it is cheaper than a lot of other commercial moisturizers and a lot better for you.

Posted on Homestead Barn Hop #18

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Its much more fun to drink from the hose....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pasty Bums (and it's not mine!)

I'm not feeling particularily well today so I'm taking it easy with the farm chores. I did notice this morning that our new chicks had some pasty bums, and of course that needed to be taken care of right away.

If you are not familiar with Pasting ,or sometimes called Sticky Bottom, it is something that happens to new chicks that are under stress, have improper temperature, food or water. Their poop can harden when stuck to their butts closing off the vent and then they can not longer eliminate. If they can't poop they will die, hence the need to clean them right away. The pasty butt also entices the other chicks to peck at them and you really don't want that to happen either.

The video below shows you how to clean their little bums with warm water. Depending on how hard the poop is, it may take a few minutes before it is soft enough to remove. Obviously with chicks that are only a few days old you have to be extremely gentle.

I don't get grossed out with poop so I did this with bare hands (mind you I did wash VERY well afterwards!), but if you have a problem with poop you may want to wear some surgical gloves.

Posted on Homestead Barn Hop #17


Well, if you are interested my podcast interview is available to hear on The Northern Homestead blog.  Jason conducted the interview using Skype so I noticed there were some delays in my responses - just the nature of technology, I'm not really that slow :)

It was a lot of fun speaking with Jason, but as in any conversation that flows things seem to get left out, or could have been expanded upon.  If you have any questions or want more information on anything we spoke about make sure to leave a comment.