Archive for October, 2009

DSC01388Today when I woke up I decided that, no matter what else needed to be done, I was going to sew today!  Last week I spent some time cutting my scraps of flannel into two of my favourite scrap-busters: baby bibs and flannel wash cloths.  The fruits of my labour today can be seen in the picture to your left (hmmm…it really doesn’t look like much for a day’s work – except that I did get sidetracked by laundry, a few internet searches, and cooking and cleaning up a big dinner….).  Not having babies of my own, I like to keep these on hand for quick baby shower gifts (usually accompanying a handmade quilt, toy, book or outfit).  It was a good time to get these done because I have two baby showers coming up in November and the second is a very special one.  Every year the ladies in my small group (about 10 woman from my church who gather together once a week to learn, talk, pray and support each other)  host a baby shower for mothers in need.  Leading up to the big day we collect as many baby items as possible (like diapers, clothes, books, small toys,  as well as a few things for the Moms too!) and then on the big night (Nov. 16 this year) we gather together and package everything into gift bags.  The bags are then distributed to families in our area through Early Intervention.  It’s fun for us and a great help to Moms in our community who are struggling to support their families.   I still have quite a few things I want to make – but today was a good start!  And…while I was making all of these things, I thought I would put together a tutorial for making baby wash cloths.  It’s actually very simple (a beginner could definitely make these and if you have been sewing a while you probably don’t need to read this tutorial) and I have had good reviews from the moms I have made these for so far.  It is also a great way to use up smaller pieces of cotton flannelette. 

Cotton Wash Cloth Tutorial


 Materials:  Two 8-inch squares of cotton flannel, thread, sewing machine




Place the squares right-sides together and sew along the edges with a 1/4 inch seam.  Leave about 2 – 3 inches along one side un-sewn for turning.  (Hint for new sewers: When you are sewing and reach a corner, leave the needle down, raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric into position for sewing the next side.  Lower the presser foot and continue sewing.)


Clip the corners close to the stitching.    Turn right-side out and press, turning the raw edges under on the un-stitched section.




Top-stitch (sew close to the edge) around all 4 sides.    That’s it!  Your wash cloth is finished. 



DSC00793Tie them up with a pretty bow for gift-giving!

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Daikon Revisited


Several weeks after finding this mystery vegetable on my back porch I was given another two of these wonderful daikons from a friend of a friend (thank you!!).  I should have taken a picture of the two of them because they were HUGE compared to this one I photographed last time.  I did go back to the original post with the intention of trying some of the asian-inspired dishes some of you suggested, but, I chickened out  – sorry!  Instead, I tried to find ways to incorporate the daikon into dishes I regularly make with ingredients I already had on hand.  I was surprised at how easy the radish was to work with and the mild flavour lent itself well to a variety of different dishes.  In the end, two new favourites have been created:

Veggie Stew – Yep, I just chopped it up and threw it into my stew like you would a potato and the results were amazing.  My hubby said it was “the best stew you have ever made!”  I actually chopped up a bunch of daikon and blanched and froze it in the hopes that I can add it to stew all winter long.

Daikon Fritters – I can’t take full credit for this, because I saw the idea online, but I played around with it a lot before a found a flavour combination I really liked.   Here are the ingredients:

1 egg (beaten), grated daikon, grated apple, grated cheddar cheese, green onion, whole wheat flour, salt and pepper  (like all of the recipes I create, I didn’t write down quantities, I just threw it all in a bowl until it looked about right).   Fry in a greased pan, flipping once one side has browned.  They were tasty dipped in a little ketchup or plum sauce too.

It was actually really fun to try and find ways to eat this new veggie and I always enjoy opportunities to widen my culinary world.   It makes me excited to try other new foods which I haven’t tried before.  (and one day I will get up the courage to try out some more traditional Daikon recipes too!)

Frying Fritters


Ready to eat, Yum!

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Menu Plan Monday


Did you try menu planning this week?  I loved perusing some of the other menus and look forward to trying some new recipes! 

We still have lots of carrots in the garden, so you will see them a lot on my menu this week.  I also picked some broccoli this morning – yum!

Baking – pomegranate ginger muffins (if you like the flavour of real ginger you have to make these – they are so good!) carrot muffins, apple crisp


Carrot & Parsnip Soup

Salsa & Cheddar chicken, corn fritters, fresh steamed broccoli with lemon

Whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce with carrots and dip on the side

Sweet potato and lentil soup (more food party fare)

Bok Choy, carrot and ginger stir-fry and vegetable fried rice

Thai Chicken Curry & Rice 

Friday Night Pizza

Another yummy week!  Really, I just love cooking!  Hope there are good things cooking at your house this week.  For more inspiration check out Menu Plan Monday on orgjunkie.com! 

Salsa Cheddar chicken, corn fritters and fresh broccoli

Salsa Cheddar chicken, corn fritters and fresh broccoli

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Morning Visiters

DSC01357We had some large visitors to our yard this morning (or, rather, the neighbour’s yard).  This is actually a fairly common occurence here, but for the last little while it has been a bunch of young deer visiting and this is the first time I have seen bucks tramping across the yard.  I remember when I first moved here I had only ever seen a deer once and when we bought this house we thought it was perfect because we saw a deer down the street after one of our house visits – what beautiful animals to share our neighbourhood with!  And then I became a gardener and now battle deer over all green things as they will eat EVERYTHING (except the weeds) and they seem to especially enjoy plants that have been touted as being “deer-proof” as if to show who is the boss!  Before we discovered deer fencing and motion-sensored sprinkler systems we were fighting a losing battle, but this year we survived with all vegetable plants, and most of the back garden flora in tact!  And although I still do not feel a great love toward them, I can once again admire them (especially when they are in the neighbour’s yard and not mine!)   And, once in a while, the city girl takes over and takes pictures of the beautiful beasts who grace our space with their presence. 


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Best Ever Bean Soup

j0175524I promised that I would post this recipe sometime soon, so here it is.  It really is the best bean soup recipe ever  – even my hubby likes it and he doesn’t even really like beans! (I must admit that even I was skeptical of making this the first time as I have had some pretty poor bean soups before….)  The original recipe makes twice this much (too much for my family of two, even with leftovers) so feel free to double it.  It also makes a great gift – place the dried beans in a jar and tie on a copy of the recipe with a piece of ribbon.  I received it as a Christmas gift two years ago and now I make it all the time.    Enjoy!

Best-Ever Bean Soup

1 cup dried beans (you can use any kind you want, or mix a whole bunch of different kinds together – this week I used navy, kidney, and red lentil, but the original jar of beans had nine different types in it!)

Wash the beans thoroughly and place in a container with water to soak overnight.  The next day, drain well and place in a large pot with 4 cups of  stock (I have used both veggie and chicken stock for this – the original recipe called for pork).  Simmer for 2 1/2 hours or until beans are tender – stirring frequently!!  Add the following and simmer for another 1/2 – 1 hour.

1 can spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes or tomato sauce                                             

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

dash of Tabasco or cayenne

1/2 cup EACH: chopped celery, chopped onion, chopped carrots

1 can beans in tomato sauce

1/2 package onion soup mix  (if anyone knows how to make their own onion soup mix I would love to know – I can’t find a store-bought version without MSG)

Pepper to taste


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Weekly Menu


I have always made a weekly menu, in fact, I am lost at the grocery store without one!  Having a menu definitely saves time (no need to decide each night what to make) and money (you only buy what you need and nothing goes to waste).  I try my best to organize my menus around seasonal produce, sale items, or what I have in the freezer.  Today I was really excited to discover a whole group of people who also like to make menus!  I’m an Organzing Junkie  hosts Menu Plan Monday every week!  What a great way to share ideas and discover new recipes!  So…today I am going to join them by posting my menu for the week.  Here it is:

Muffin of the week: Whole Wheat Carrot Raison  (Made with carrots from the garden)

Treat of the Week: I’m canning this week instead of baking – so no treat. 😦  But we will have green tomato mincemeat, salsa and stewed tomatoes for the winter!

Main Dishes  (I eat muffins or oatmeal for breakfast and leftovers for lunch – simple!)

Quesadillas  (tomatoes, cheese and onions in a tortilla folded in half and fried on both sides like grilled cheese)

Veggie Stew & Biscuits

Best-Ever Bean Soup (this is a super simple, super cheap, amazingly good soup – I will post the recipe sometime soon!)

Homemade tortellini from the freezer (from this cookbook) with fresh tomato sauce and carrots from the garden

Spicy tomato chicken soup with baked pita (a product of the food party)

Pita Nachos – this is something I made up for this week – beans, veggies, salsa and cheese on a pita baked in the oven until crisp – I’ll let you know if it turns out!

Friday night Pizza

Yum!  Just reading that list makes me want to go cook!  You have probably noticed the lack of meat on that list – I am a former vegan (long story – all health related) married to a meat-a-tarian but since I do most of the cooking the compromise is delicious veggie meals most of the time and a poultry dish once in a while – oh, and sometimes I’ll put meat on half the pizza or half the nachos – just ’cause I love him!  🙂    If you want to check out some more great weekly menus head on over to the Menu Plan Monday list.  Hope there are some good things cooking at your house this week!

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Keeping Cosy

DSC01352Winter has come upon us this year a lot faster than I would like!  We have already had our first snowfall and the frost has been so thick the last few mornings that there is nothing left of our garden.  Two years ago we picked a giant pumpkin out of the patch for Halloween and the leaves on the vine were still green – not so this year!  The poor pumpkin looks rather naked sitting there by himself without all of his leaves to cover him!  Definitely time to pull out the winter woolies!  And I’m not the only one feeling chilly – I created this glove dog from these instructions – and he looked a little bare without something around his neck so I had to crochet him a little scarf.  I have to admit that at first glance I thought glove animals were a little homely looking (arms and legs of different sizes and all…) but I’m kind of in love with this guy!  And while I was thinking cosy thoughts I have been working on a pattern for a pear cosy – not because pears need to be kept warm (although they would look cute in a scarf!) but to stop them from getting bruised when I take them in my lunch.  My mother crocheted me a nice one, but as I am more of a sewer than a crocheter I thought it would be fun to create a sewn version of the cosy.  Here is my first attempt: DSC01354

It was actually really quick and simple to make  – and a great way to use up scraps – but I think the pattern needs a little tweaking.  It’s a great pear cosy – but it would be nice to have something that works for apples and peaches too.  I’m thinking maybe a Dresden plate block gathered at the top?  Stay tuned for future versions!  Two benefits of this one – when it’s open, it looks like a pretty flower (and could double as a trivet!) and…it’s reversible! (because we all know how important it is to have fashionable fruit!)  Stay cosy! 🙂DSC01345DSC01349

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Beautiful Baked Burritos

DSC01321Don’t you just love those meals that you can just throw together?  No recipe required – just open the fridge and put in whatever you have.  Baked burritos are one of those dishes for me.   Way back when I was in university I used a recipe to make my first batch, but I have now made them so often and changed so many of the ingredients that they no longer resemble the recipe at all.  This is when I am glad that cooking is an art, not a science.  Although there have been combinations that have not worked so well, I now have an amazing dish that I love and would never have discovered if I didn’t take the risk to try something new (kind of like a lot of things in life, isn’t it?)  I have also baked them in many ways and in many places – at camp I discovered that they are really good wrapped up in tinfoil and cooked in an open fire, or pan-fried on those hot days when you just don’t want to turn on the oven.   There is no real recipe – but here are the basics on how to make them. 


Tortillas of any kind – lay out on the counter

Beans of any kind (cooked or from a can – drained and rinsed) 2 cups will make about 6 burritos.  I like black beans best, my husband likes romano – mash them in a bowl

Vegetables (whatever you have in the fridge or freezer – I like onions of some kind, peppers, corn, tomatoes) – add to mashed beans. If bean mixure seems dry, add a little salsa. 

Spices – chilli powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, fresh cilantro, whatever you like – add to bean mixture

Cheese, grated

Salsa – store-bought or homemade (tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, olive oil and tomato paste in a food processor works well)

Spoon bean mixture into center of each burrito. Top with cheese.  Fold up bottom and top and then sides to create a roll-type shape.  Place fold-side down in a greased pan.  Continue until everything is used up or there is no room left in the pan.  Pour salsa over the burritos.  Bake at 350 for 20 – 30 minutes or until hot.  (If you like cheese you could put cheese on top before baking, if you want a softer burrito, cover with foil before baking)  Delicious topped with plain yogurt, fried onions and peppers, sliced green onion and sour cream, whatever you like – or just enjoy them as is!  And because they are so easy to make, you won’t need a siesta after your fiesta! 😉

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Food Party!

Party like a cucumber!

Party like a cucumber!

No, it’s not really a party for food (although I had a lot of fun setting up that photo), it’s a party to make food!  Apparently if you live in a big city, you can go to these places where, for a fee,  you can cook your meals for a week (they have the ingredients already prepped) and then take them home with you – your cooking done and no mess in your kitchen.   The downside is that it is a little pricy (and not something that will probably find its way to our rural neighbourhood anytime soon).  One of my friends heard about this idea and thought “why not get together a group of friends and do it in our own kitchen?”  So yesterday, that is exactly what we did.  There were three of us (which was a good number for your standard-sized kitchen and stove) and we each brought the ingredients to make one recipe.  We discussed food preferences beforehand and then chose recipes that freeze well, and that made six servings which we then doubled so that each of us got to take home 4 servings of each dish.  It was a lot of fun cooking together and the clean-up was a breeze with so many hands to help.  We even shared a meal together while everything was simmering.   Because I have a family of two, I divided everything into two-serving portions and now have enough food in the fridge to not have to cook three nights this week, and I have 3 delicious meals in the freezer too!  Total cost for 6 meals – $22.  Next time we think we’ll do some baking too as we couldn’t believe how fast the cooking went!  So…the next time you are looking for some healthy convenience foods, why not gather together a group of friends and have a food party?

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Friday Night Pizza

DSC01284Friday night pizza is a tradition that goes back way into my childhood.  When I was young, it was stir-and-roll pizza dough from the Betty Crocker cookbook and a wide variety of toppings (I seem to remember mushrooms from a can, green pepper, and pineapple being consistent toppings).  Once my mom even packaged it in pizza boxes and took it over to a friend’s house for dinner!  When things got a little busier in my teen years we ordered in pizza on Friday nights – greasy, cheesy slices with mushrooms, peppers and olives.  Now that I have my own house and kitchen I have re-instated the pizza tradition.  I began with the stir-in-roll, but it just didn’t seem to taste the same as when I was a kid.  I was re-inspired by an all-white flour rising pizza dough recipe in one of my cookbooks, then a whole wheat dough recipe, and they were both good, but not amazing.    Then, when I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver I tried their pizza dough recipe and we LOVED it!!  (Incidentally, the book is awesome and inspiring for anyone trying to eat simply, locally, and healthfully – and overall just a good read).   It is half whole wheat and half white, so a bit of a compromise from a health standpoint, but it cooks beautifully!  I like to make the dough on a Saturday or Sunday (it really doesn’t take that long to make), separate it into one-crust balls and pop it in the freezer.  Then on Friday mornings I take it out of the freezer and put it on the counter and by the time I come home from work it is thawed and ready to go!  You can find the recipe here.   I usually top it with whatever happens to be left in the fridge on a Friday.  The pizza pictured above has mozzarella cheese, green onions and tomatoes from the garden, fried peppers, and feta cheese.  I also enjoy fresh garden zucchini, picked small and cut into “pepperoni” sized pieces with mushrooms and olives.    I prefer mine meatless, but I often put ground beef (from our local butcher) on half for my meat-loving husband.  I love the smell of fresh-baked pizza on a Friday night and it is a simple way to end the week – and it costs a lot less than ordering in!  Leftovers re-heat quickly in the toaster oven and are great for lunch the next day – or even breakfast!  If you’ve never made pizza dough before, you should definitely give it a try.  You will be surprised at how quickly you can turn your kitchen into your own pizzeria!  Enjoy!

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