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.