Archive for February, 2011

Source:  Victory Economy Bulletin No. 10  Date:  WW2

It’s been a while since I have done one of these posts.  If you are unfamiliar with this project, you can find out more here

With the war putting restrictions on sugar, these “Victory Economy Bulletins” were put out by the Lakeside Home Baking Services Bureau as a way to help the cooks of the day create favourite recipes without sugar, and, of course, to promote the use of Campbell’s flour.  I have made a few recipes from these bulletins already, some successfully, some not

I think this might be the best one so far.  It is sweet, with jam being the only sweet ingredient, it’s moist, easy to make, and Hubby would have happily eaten it all in one sitting if I had let him.  “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!” 

Here is the recipes as written:

And my version.

Jam Roly-Poly

Mix one cup of whole wheat pastry flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 

(Note the vintage bowl)  🙂

Cut in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or softened butter until crumbly. 

Add enough milk to make a soft dough (I found this took slightly less than 1/3 cup)

Roll about 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.  If necessary, use your fingers to nudge it into a rectangular shape.   Spread with a thick jam (I used raspberry.)

Gently roll up the dough until you have a log-looking shape.  (Be gentle!  You don’t want the jam to squish out everywhere!)

Now….here is the step that gave me pause.  The recipe asks me to put it into a greased bowl and steam.  Although I vaguely remember my grandmother steaming plum puddings at Christmas it has been years since I have seen such a thing.  Hello Google!  I discovered the Roly-Poly was often originally steamed in a shirt sleeve to keep its log-like shape, but that you could also wrap it in parchment paper to achieve the same effect.  Many sites recommended the use of a “pudding steamer” (hmmm…..I seem to have missed that one on the bridal registry…) which is a nice oblong shape.  Then there were sites that recommended using your roasting pan as the steamer with the metal rack serving to keep the pudding off the bottom.

Choices, choices.

So I went to the expert – Mom!  She recommended the use of a double boiler steamer and a glass bowl (hmm….kind of like the original recipe suggested?)  The problem is the long log wouldn’t fit into the bowl that would fit into my double broiler (trust me, this recipe is easy, I just have a knack for turning the easiest thing into a Google hunt.)

So, I did what I should have done from the beginning.  I cut the roll in half, put them side by side in the greased bowl, covered it with parchment paper secured with an elastic, and put it in the steaming basket over a pot of boiling water.

After 45 minutes I had almost boiled my pot dry (note to self, check the pot every once in a while when steaming) and the pudding was steamed to perfection. 

The recipe suggests serving with a sauce, but I opted for whipping up a little cream and flavouring it with a little of the raspberry jam.  Yum. 

Not only was this a good dessert, but I no longer have a fear of steamed puddings (and there are MANY of them in Nana’s collection.) 

I’d love to know if you give this a try, or if you have tried other steamed desserts.    Enjoy!

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Real Life happens at the kitchen sink

I spend a lot of time here, at the kitchen sink. 


When hubby and I were looking for a house, one of the things we decided we didn’t need was a dishwasher.  

There are days I regret that decision.

 Days when I just want the pile of dishes that snake across the counter to magically clean themselves so I can move on to “Real Life.”

In the same way that when I was 6 I wanted to be 10, and when I was 10 I wanted to be 16, and when I was in university I just wanted to be working. 

We push past where we are now, and start to resent the simple everyday moments, hoping to spend more time on the Real Things of life, whatever those things may be.

But I am discovering that perhaps, Real Life happens during those everyday, seemingly tedious activities, like doing the dishes.

Standing at the kitchen sink I am reminded of many hours spent in a similar fashion with those that I love.

My grandfather was the dish washer in my grandparent’s household and when I would visit and we would do dishes together, he would sing to me.  In the silly way that life works it is one of the few times I would hear him lift his voice and sing as I would be serenaded with renditions of “A Bicycle Built for Two” and “Jeepers Creepers.”  It is a side of my grandfather I may not have seen without meeting at the kitchen sink.  Sometimes when I am doing dishes it is almost like having him back again as I see him in my minds eye dancing and singing and scrubbing at the same time. 

Sometimes, at my own house, when the whole family was gathered together, I would be given the night off from dish duty if I would sit at the piano and “play us a tune.”  On those days my memories were of music and the sound of many voices and laughter wafting down the hallway from the kitchen, and, especially at Christmas time, singing voices of all kinds lifted in cheerful song.  

When I moved far from home, dish time became phone chat time, and although my grandmother left this earth over a year ago, there is hardly a time that I pick up washcloth and soap that I don’t long to pick up the phone and hear her voice once again.  Sometimes I can still hear her in my head, chatting about the ladies at quilting, the goings-on at her church, and the amazing meals she had the joy of partaking in (my grandmother always did like to talk about food!) 

And dish time is still a time to chat with my mother.  Often she is doing dishes too as we talk, and we are connected by that daily task of soaping and scrubbing, drying and putting away.  The clink of the dishes, the splashing of the water, the closing of a cupboard door are the background music to our weekly conversations.  

And dish time in my house is also alone time.  A time to pray.  To reflect.  To think.  To ponder.  To sing.  To be quiet.  To enjoy good music.  To talk.  To learn.  To laugh.  And even…. To cry.  To be angry.  To let frustrations out.  To calm down.  To get worked up. 

To live. 

This daily task is a part of the rhythm of my life.  It is the connecting tissue of some of my fondest memories.

Who knew there could be so much power in a sink full of dirty dishes? 

I’m not saying I rejoice when it is time to do the dishes.  But I have a better appreciation for how Real Life happens in the small, everyday, moments, and I stop wishing the time away, and start accepting it as part of a full and beautiful life. 

What about you?  Do you find ways to savour the everyday moments of life?

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I decided on a bit of a whim that I wanted to learn how to make my own pita bread.    I searched a number of recipes and finally decided on one that sounded easy and incorporated whole wheat flour.

I was amazed with how little time it took to put together and bake.

And the taste is out of this world.

I will never go back to store-bought pitas again.

If you would like your own piece of pita heaven I highly recommend this recipe.  (I used 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup whole white flour, otherwise I followed the recipe as written.) 

And what is pita without hummus? 

My absolute favourite recipe for hummus is the Hummus with Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe from the Canadian Living’s Best Vegetarian Dishes  cookbook.    It is so perfect that (gasp!) I haven’t made any changes or alterations.  I know.  It’s that good. 

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

  • 1 can (19oz) chick-peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce  (I guess I have made a change after all.  I have never put in the hot pepper sauce because I don’t have any on hand.  A few sprinkles of cayenne will give it a little zip if you are so inclined.)

This is one of those recipes that really works best in a food processor.  That being said, in my pre food-processor days I have successfully made it in tiny batches in a mini-chopper and have even made blender hummus (but you will need to add more liquid.)  If you have strong arms you can even make it by hand, but it does tend to have a chunkier texture. 

Begin by processing the chick peas until they are coarsely chopped. 

Add everything else and process until smooth.

Don’t you love two-step recipes?

Now, dip your delicious homemade pita into the hummus and enjoy!

As a side note, I recently tried a curry-flavoured honey-sweetened number that might give this a run for its money in the absolute favourite hummus department…  If I can recreate the recipe I’ll be sure to post it!

 Do you have a favourite hummus or bread recipe?

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I currently teach a group of students who predominantly prefer to read non-fiction.  I love that they love to learn, but sometimes lament that they are missing out on the fun and enjoyment of reading something just for fun.

And then I remember who their teacher is.

Who their teacher has been for the past two (and in some cases three) years.

There are twenty books currently on my nightstand and only one of them is fiction.

Most of the classroom libraries at my school have a basket or two of non-fiction titles – mine is half and half…and the non-fiction side is growing!

I do love fiction of course.  But I love reading to learn even more. 

I suppose there are worse habits I could pass on to my students?  (And don’t worry, I have introduced them to some great fiction, too!)

And now some nightstand nuggets to pass on to you.

Cook Once A Week

This book has saved me this year.  Trying to juggle my very full-time job and a new fledgling business makes weeknight cooking a challenge.  But I don’t want to compromise on the quality of the meals that we eat (and I still love to cook!)  This book saved the day with great recipes for healthy meals, and a plan to use 3 hours on the week-end to create all of the meal components for the week.  And since there are only two of us, that means lunches too!  I have not followed any of the weekly plains as laid out, but have used some of the recipes (and the concept) to create my weekly meal plans.   The pasta sauce, soups and baked beans have all become household staples. 

Canadian Living: The Slow Cooker Collection

This is now my go-to slow cooker recipe book.  Everything I have tried so far (except for one chili recipe) has been amazing!  I have not always had great success with my crock pot before, but now I use it on a weekly basis.  It is also a beautiful book to look at (not necessary for a good cookbook, but nice for a little bedtime reading….)  I sadly had to return it to the library this week but it is a “must buy.”  My crock pot will be lonely without it!

The Introvert Advantage: Making the Most of Your Inner Strengths

If you are an introvert, or live with an introvert, this is a must read!  It has totally changed the way I think about introverts!  (yep…myself included…..)  The brain research was most fascinating to me (so that’s why everything comes to me in my sleep….) but there were also lots of great suggestions for using the sometimes misunderstood introverted traits to your advantage.   There is also a chapter on introverted children, which gave some insight into some of the behaviours I see in my classroom.  Fascinating.   

The Artist In The Office

I devoured this book in one sitting.  Then I went back and did the exercises.  This is a fun and creative walk through what it is like to be an artist and creative person with a job that may not be so artistic and creative.   There are many great tips and ideas, lots of fun illustrations, and the exercises will change the way you think about both of your jobs.   An excellent book!  I’m going to have a hard time returning this one to the library too! 🙂

What about you?  Are you a fiction reader or a lover of non-fiction like me?  What is currently on your night stand?

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Pillow Cube Tutorial

I designed this pillow cube months ago when I was looking for something that would act as a design element, but also be functional for extra seating or to put up your feet at the end of a long day.   (Not that I ever sit still long enough to put my feet up, but I have heard that it can be enjoyable!)

They are a quick and easy project and the end result is soft, squishy and fun!  (What more do you want from a pillow?) 

Want to make your own?  Just click on this handy dandy tutorial and you’re on your way!

The Fabulous Pillow Cube Tutorial

If you make a pillow, please let me know!  I would love to see it!   Enjoy!

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I call these kitchen sink muffins because they seem to have a little bit of everything in them, and they also lend themselves well to substitutions.  The recipe began as a simple muffin recipe which has now been adapted so many times it has become something completely different (and even after all of the recipe testing, my freezer is still full of zucchini!)   They are very moist, very delicious, and shall I dare to say that they are pretty healthy too?

Kitchen Sink Zucchini Muffins

  • 2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 cup shredded zucchini (thawed and squeezed dry if frozen)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup add-ins (I used raisins and dried cranberries in this batch but any nut, seed, dried fruit or even chocolate or carob chips would be good)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12-cup muffin pan. 

Combining the dry ingredients in a large bowl – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. 

Here’s a tip – use your own freshly grated nutmeg.  The taste difference is unbelievable, and it really takes no time at all to grate a little into your bowl (and then you’ll really feel like a chef!)  

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix the remaining ingredients (except for the add-ins, leave those aside for now.) 

Pour the wet into the dry and gently begin to stir the two together.


While the batter is still undermixed, begin to fold in your add-in ingredients (raisins and cranberries in this batch!)

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Ta-da!  Muffin perfection.  They are particularly good while still steamy hot from the oven, yum!

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Absolutely nothing but snow! 

We haven’t seen snow like this in a while.  Usually it snows and melts snows and melts.   But this year it snows and snows and snows some more.

That’s the picnic table under there.  Anyone up for an alfresco dinner?

What’s that?  You’re up for a snow picnic?  Well…first we have to get out the door! 

It’s the perfect weather for building a snowman, snowshoeing and snowball fights.    We’ll be giggling and smiling in the cold air as our boots crunch in the snow, snowflakes tickle our faces and our cheeks turn rosy red.    And then we’ll put another log in the wood stove and cuddle under a blanket with a good book. 

Today I am relishing the joys of a winter wonderland.   How about you?

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

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The Family is Growing

I have become quite excited about sweaters lately.  The more I look at them, the more I see animal personalities trying to break free.    Here are a few new additions to the sweater friend family:

I must admit that my house is quickly becoming a bit of a sweater menagerie!  All of these guys are for sale in the shop

I still have quite a pile of sweaters to work with, so I don’t think this family is done growing yet.  Hippos are quite popular around this house, so I might have to attempt that next, although their big nose might prove to be a challenge!

What are your favourite animals?

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Why Do We Have Winter?

There is a reason that I don’t mind having to shovel several feet of snow off the front walk; that I am not concerned that if I walked out onto the back porch today I would be buried up to my neck in snow; and that I come to school each day toting a hat, thick mittens, giant wool socks, snow pants, coat and boots, just so I can go outside with my students and not turn into a popsicle. 

Although I love to snowshoe, it is not for that reason that I am finding joy in the wintery weather today.

And as much as I enjoy being toppled into snowbanks by my fun-loving hubby, it is not for that reason either that I have decided to sing Winter’s praises.

It is because I know

That in about five months time

It is going to make this moment

That much sweeter.

Wishing you sunshine today, whatever the weather might be!

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