Before I even start this post, let me make it clear that I rarely eat dessert. I love making yummy things but, after one piece, I rarely have any more. Seriously. You know that apple pie and the lemon meringue pie I made for Thanksgiving? One piece of each. All those cookies? Maybe 4 of each….total.

I love baking. I just don’t eat much of it.

I think tonight might be different.

A couple of weeks ago (Thanksgiving weekend, to be precise), in order to make the Lemon Meringue Pie, I bought a bunch of lemons including a bag of Meyer lemons. I still had quite a few left. Then, this week, John came  home with apples. Not just a bag of apples, but four boxes! I was told I could make as many pies as I wanted.

Today, I decided I didn’t want to bake pies so I went on the hunt for apple cake recipes and found a recipe for a French Apple Cake. It looked simple enough. It’s basically apples held together with a bit of batter.

Oh my!


With some whipped cream, this cake is amazing! It isn’t super sweet, even with the icing sugar dusted on it. As I said, it’s more apple than batter. It’s also flavoured with rum, not so much that it’s boozy but just a flavour. If you do decide to try it, I strongly suggest that you leave the rum in it; honestly, it’s really good! Oh, we decided to make it a little more decadent by drizzling the cake with salted caramel sauce. It didn’t need it, though. Both John and I agreed that, though it’s great as it is, this is a basic recipe that could easily be modified. What goes with apple? John suggested, believe it or not, lavender. I thought, perhaps, almond. It’s a recipe that invites experimentation. And I just happen to have a few more apples.

Then there were the lemons. Sure, I could have made another lemon meringue pie, or two. I know Trinity would have been thrilled. It just happens, however, that I bought a new bundt pan today (something I didn’t have until now) so I started looking at bundt cake recipes today. A number of the recipes I found start out with a boxed cake mix but if you know me at all, you will know that there are no boxed cake mixes in my house nor are there ever likely to be. I kept looking until I found this one.


With lemon juice in the cake, lemon juice in the glaze, and a sprinkling of lemon sugar on top of it all, this is one lemony treat. The cake is a hot milk cake and is so moist and flavourful, John was pretty much moaning with pleasure. I made on very small alteration to the recipe; when the cake came out of the pan (cleanly, I might add), I brushed the entire cake with lemon juice, giving it even more lemony flavour. I think Trinity will like it.


Dinner was amazing. Sorry you weren’t here to enjoy it with us.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though today is our Canadian Thanksgiving, we decided it would be nice to have a do-nothing kind of day before going back to work and school tomorrow so we had our dinner yesterday.

Normally, I wouldn’t post about what we ate for dinner but I’m really proud of the meal we had. I mean, the dinner itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We had a roasted chicken, slathered with Dijon mustard, liberally sprinkled with my seasoned salt for chicken, and stuffed with a blend of sweet onion, rosemary, sage, and thyme. We had a cheesy cauliflower casserole, boiled carrots, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes with gravy. I didn’t buy enough brussels sprouts, apparently. We all love them and I think, had there been more, Ethan would happily have had a meal of nothing but chicken and brussels sprouts. For the kids, I picked up a bottle of Martinelli’s sparkly crisp apple juice (served in wine glasses). Everything was perfectly done. That, in itself, made me happy.

The best part of the meal, though, the part everyone was eagerly anticipating was dessert. You saw the Lemon Meringue Pie I posted yesterday. Well, after posting, I thought about the other half of the pie dough in the fridge and decided to run out to pick up a few things. Like Jonagold apples. And whipping cream. And brown sugar.

The first thing I made was a Salted Caramel sauce. Oh my, so good I could eat it by the spoonful. I didn’t. But I could.

Then, I made a gluten free Dutch Apple Pie.


There are one or two things I would do differently next time but they’re minor. For instance, next time I would make more of the topping and use more butter in it. I’d sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the apples just to brighten the flavour a little more. As I said, minor things.

I did do something a little different with this pie, other than making it gluten free. Instead of using cinnamon and nutmeg, I used Speculaas seasoning, a wonderful warm and aromatic blend of spices.


It came out beautifully! The only critique I had was that the bottom crust didn’t bake properly (I should have baked it in the lower third of the oven, not the middle). No one else cared. We served it with freshly whipped sweetened cream, drizzled with salted caramel sauce.

I think Trinity had at least two pieces of the Lemon Meringue Pie (lemon is her favourite flavour!) and we all left the table feeling rather stuffed.


We had a wonderful dinner and we all shared some of the things we were thankful for… family, friends, a bountiful supply of food, a safe place to live…. from the big things to the little things.

I hope that you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. Remember, there’s always something to be happy for. We are, truly, blessed.

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Gluten Free Experimentation

Let’s get things out in the open right from the start… I am not gluten intolerant. So, why am I experimenting with gluten free baking? Well, I happen to have people in my family who ARE gluten intolerant. Because I do a fair bit of baking, I’ve been challenged by my daughter to change at least some of my recipes to gluten free. Ok, challenge accepted.

With Thanksgiving on Monday, I decided it was time to try making a gf dessert – Lemon Meringue Pie. This morning was spent looking up gluten free baking and recipes for pie pastry. I’ve got the filling down pat; I’m using a recipe I’ve been making since high school (a very long time ago!). The recipe I settled on was this one, from Gluten Free Girl.

I’m following the directions from a Serious Eats recipe, one that worked very well for me last week when I baked an apple pie. One thing I noticed right away is that the dough is much whiter than my regular pie dough. That may be the result of the flour blend I’m using, I suppose. This particular blend is a mixture of  white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and guar gum. The directions say to substitute 1 cup of wheat flour for 1 cup gf flour mix so that’s what I went with. The slip of paper that came with the gf flour reads “This Gluten Free Flour blend is good for breads, cookies, cakes & most general gluten free baking”.


Right now, my pie shell has been baking for about 10 minutes; I’ve just removed the parchment and baking beads and it’s back in the oven at a lower temperature to finish baking.


Ok, I let the bottom get a little dark. At least I know it’s baked through! In my reading, I read a few posts that said that an all butter crust doesn’t always hold its shape well. Many suggested freezing the pastry for about 15 minutes to half an hour before baking so I did. I must say it held its shape quite well. I’m pretty happy with it, all in all.

As I’m writing this post, I’m also baking this pie. This is real time blogging! At this very moment, the pie is back in the oven. The lemon filling is in, the meringue on top and it’s baking for a few more minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned, just the way we like it.


Unfortunately, I can’t tell you… .yet… how it turned out. I’m really happy with the appearance. There were some bits of pastry stuck to the parchment and they were pretty flaky and tender but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. It needs to cool; it needs to set. Thanksgiving dinner must be eaten. Only then will dessert be presented.

If we can wait that long. I’ll let you know.

Categories: Baking, No Knitting | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Further Adventures in Fermentation

So, a couple of posts ago, I told you about my first forays into the art of fermentation. Let’s see, I’ve made sauerkraut (not bad), pickles (nobody likes them… I’ve disposed of them), picked beans (um… also not a major success), pickled cauliflower (won’t ANYBODY try them??), water kefir, and kombucha.

Notice that those last two have no comments? Well, that’s because the kombucha has been going strong. I had one batch that went very wrong (smelled suspiciously like a sewage tank.. not very palatable) and started fresh. I was able to purchase a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast… look it up but be prepared – it looks like slime… see below) as well as starting another one from a bottle of purchased unflavoured and raw kombucha. A few months in, my kombucha is pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself.


The beginnings of a new scoby on the surface of a batch of kombucha. The larger blob is the original scoby, used to ferment this batch.

If you’re not familiar with kombucha, it’s a fermented beverage made with tea, sugar, and a scoby, a bacteria/yeast culture that feeds on the sugar and the caffeine in the tea. When the process is complete (or to one’s satisfaction), the resulting beverage is kind of tangy/sour/sweet and slightly fizzy. Flavourings like juice, berries, herbs, syrups, etc. can be added in a second ferment in a sealed bottle and the resulting drink can become quite fizzy. The batch I bottled earlier today (pictured below) is seasoned with blackberries and lavender and is one of my favourite combos.


It’s a drink that has been around for a long time (possible thousands of years) and there are many reported, but largely unproven, health benefits. For myself, I can say that some developing hip pains have pretty much gone. Is is from the kombucha? I don’t know. Thing is, I like this stuff. It’s easy to make. It tastes good. I’m drinking something that’s filled with probiotics and that can’t be bad for my body.

The water kefir, on the other hand, seemed to be going very well. Unfortunately, it was so sickly sweet that I was concerned that it wasn’t fermenting properly. I threw it all out. I do, however, have a couple of bottles that turned out so well that I’m tempted to try again. Tempted. I haven’t broken down yet and purchased more water kefir grains. I have a bar fridge filled with kombucha that will need to be consumed before I seriously consider it.

As for other fermented foods? I like the idea of fermentation but, around here, if no one’s going to like or eat them, why make them?

Categories: Blogging, Fermentation, Health, Just stuff, kefir, kombucha, No Knitting, water kefir | 1 Comment

It’s Been HOW Long?

Yeah, you probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth or are out and about doing something so exciting and time-consuming that I have no time for anything, let alone blogging. Well, you’d be wrong on both counts although it has been busy, just not with anything terribly exciting. I guess it’s called life.

Truth be told, I’ve simply been too tired and uninspired. Every time the thought of blogging has entered my mind, so have thoughts of other things that really should be done first. Or, something’s come along to take up my time or distract me from the thought of writing anything.

So, now that I have time and I’ve actually sat down and started typing, where to I start? It’s been a fairly busy summer, one that has flown by. My mother and one of my grandsons came for a (short, very short) visit. It was good to see them both. John and I did manage to get away for a week, just after my birthday. We traveled around southern British Columbia, through the Kootenays. It was a much needed getaway from our daily routines and, even though it was a lot of driving, it was relaxing, a time of simply enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. Even our old car (1993 Mazda 626) behaved and gave us no real concern. Now, the days are beginning to shorten and cool; the kids are back in school and life is settling down into something resembling normalcy.

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’m still cooking, still knitting, still making the occasional batch of soap, and I’ve started making more fermented foods and beverages. If you follow me on Ravelry, you’ll know that I’ve started a small knitting project that I won’t be blogging about until it’s finished and in the hands of its recipient. (Ha! how’s that for a teaser, huh?)

So, now we’re at the end of summer. Life is settling back into a regular routine. Now that we’re “back to normal”, I’m hoping to spend more time doing the things I enjoy, which includes blogging… well… writing. It’s been too long a break.

For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos taken this summer…

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Fermented, not Demented

In regards to the title, there are those who might (just might) consider me slightly demented when it comes to playing with my food. My latest…. ok, let’s call it what it is… obsession is fermented foods. My first batch of kombucha is now in bottles for its second ferment (to encourage the fizzies). My first small batch of rhubarb honey soda (2 bottles… that’s all…. 2 bottles, ok?) is in bottles.

The rhubarb soda will be moving into the fridge a little later, after I’ve tidied and re-arranged the fridge. I think it’s something the kids will enjoy later today – after I’ve had a taste of it, of course.

In other ferments, I have a ginger bug on my kitchen counter; there’s some heavy cream that has been cultured with yogurt, ready to be turned into cultured butter. There’s a kefir starter in my fridge and there’s a jar of water kefir on my stove. There’s also a jar of sauerkraut in the closet under my stairs. I think that’s it…. for now.

So where did this kick come from? I’m not really sure, to be honest. It may have been started by a thread on the Soap Making Forum, one about sauerkraut made the old way, with nothing but salt. It may have been something I saw on Pinterest. In any case, whatever it was sparked my curiosity enough to start doing some research. The sauerkraut came first.

It won’t be ready for another week or two. It’s beginning to sour but, at the moment, is still on the salty and crunchy side. I’ll have to get Trinity to taste it later; she’s our resident sauerkraut fanatic. She could eat it by the jar full!

Kombucha is something I haven’t had before, that I can remember. Kristen reminded me that her Oma used to make it but no one wanted to try it. It was…. icky! There was this giant blob of stuff in a bucket and she would drink some of the liquid daily. It really was rather disgusting-looking. Now, here I am, years later, making it and drinking it myself.


Center – 3 bottles blackberry/blueberry  kombucha. The other 4.5 are rhubarb honey kombucha. Second ferment to promote carbonation

Kefir is another word I’ve heard before but wasn’t really familiar with. Honestly, it reminds me of buttermilk, one of my favourite things.  Water kefir, though, is a whole new thing for me. I was able to score some kefir grains for both kinds (thanks to Kristen for the milk kefir grains). I haven’t yet made a batch with the grains from Kristen but they’re activated and ready to go. My (very) local health food store carries water kefir grains so I decided to try those as well. Right now, there’s a batch brewing in a mason jar on my stove, made with water, sugar, a hint of molasses, and about 1/4 lemon. It’s been there overnight and I’ll be trying it shortly.

Well, this is turning out to be a very rambling post. I’ll end here. If you have any tips or hints for me, please don’t hesitate to leave them. I’m still doing a lot of research via the google machine (and Pinterest) and I’m absolutely fascinated by the whole fermented food movement. I do find that I feel better since starting with kombucha (which is why I’ve started making it). I feel… I’m not sure how to describe it… a little more balanced? I’m sleeping better, I don’t feel as bloated as I often do… just better.

I’d like to keep it that way.

Categories: Cooking, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

But Does It Cut The Mustard?

I know, it’s been a while. I’m still around, honest! Life’s just been far too busy and some of the things I enjoy doing, like blogging, have suffered. However, I’m here.

This weekend is a long weekend in Canada. Monday is Victoria Day, the day we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. I do love me a long weekend and, to help make it even better, I took Friday off as well. And what, you might ask, did I do with my extra day off? Good question.

For some reason, I ended up looking up mustard recipes on Pinterest. I love looking up recipes at any time but how I ended up looking for mustard recipes, I have no idea. However, I was inspired enough to go out and pick up some simple ingredients, including wine (which is almost a staple around here) and Jack Daniels.

I am now in the process of making two kinds of mustard. The first is a wine based mustard, seasoned with allspice and the second is a Jack Daniels based with caramelized onions and I’m not sure what else. We shall see. Both are experiments.

I’ve also made a basic mustard using an Alton Brown recipe. Right now, it’s extremely potent, with a wicked kick. Obviously, the flavours need to meld and soften for a few days.

Well, it’s now two days later and the mustard is made, in jars, sampled and critiqued. The general consensus is that my first foray into mustard making is a success for two out of three recipes.


From l to r: Jack Daniels Mustard (2 jars and a bit), White Wine Mustard (2 jars). At the front, AB’s Best Mustard. Three samples for my sister.

The Alton Brown recipe is definitely a success. I did modify the recipe slightly as it calls for sweet pickle juice; sweet pickles have no place in this household. No one here likes them. Instead, I used garlic dill pickle juice and cut it back quite a bit as quite a few of the comments on the recipe were about the runny consistency. According to John, from now on this will be the only mustard he uses on his hot dogs and hamburgers. Right now, it’s VERY potent; my sister (who happened to be in the area) noted that it almost has a wasabi-like kick to it. She’s right. A little goes a very long way!

AB Best Mustard

The Jack Daniels mustard is also a definite success. Even though the mustard was freshly made, there was flavour there that was missing in the wine mustard. It was the only dish that needed to be replenished. I will need to write out what I did to make that one as it was mostly made by instinct… you know, a bit of this, a pinch of that, and maybe it needs a dash of that.


The white wine mustard was the least favourite of the three mustards. Compared to the other two, it was almost bland. It definitely needs to be kicked up a notch and I’m not really sure just what will do that. Again, I did modify the recipe slightly as we don’t generally like sweet mustards so I nixxed the honey. Kristen pointed out that it could be that the wine I used could have affected the outcome as well. She’s right. Hochtaler isn’t a terribly high quality wine. Something with a bit more of a pedigree would definitely have made a better final product. Having said that, sometimes a strong potent mustard isn’t called for, right?


I had to keep reminding everyone (John, my sister, her husband, Kristen, and the kids) that all three of these mustards are still very raw. They need some time to develop their flavours and mature. In a week’s time, they may taste completely different. We may have to do another taste test next weekend.


Categories: Cooking, Mustard | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Sick Day

Ethan has been sick this week. With his mom working, and me working, babysitting duties have fallen to Grandpa John. That lasted one day. Then, I got sick, too. Yesterday (Thursday), both Ethan and I had a sick day. (I’m having another one today; this cough is painful and I’m exhausted!)

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous spring days. It’s chilly in the shade but the sunshine is oh, so lovely. Ethan was definitely feeling better than he did on Wednesday and, after a lunch of Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup and a hot dog, he decided to play outside… with my camera.

There’s been a lot of renovation going on in the suite next door and each of the guys working there, or watching there, has a dog. In all, there were four dogs around the property yesterday and Ethan adores all of them. That was one of the reasons he asked if he could use my camera. Here are a few of the shots we took…

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Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, No Knitting, Nonsense | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Pizza Day

This week, the kids had pizza day at school. Mom decided they didn’t need to participate in every single pizza day; it comes around once a month and the slices are $3.00 each. For a single mom, two kids and two slices each, $12.00 is no chump change. They seemed a little disappointed but not overly so. I decided to step in.

No, I didn’t pay for pizza day. I suggested that we have our own pizza day… at my house. They could pitch in and make their own pizza with whatever toppings they might want. That’s what we did and it was fun!


I made the pizza dough while the kids were upstairs meeting Samson, the pup that’s being boarded with S for the next couple of months (he’s a mastiff akbash cross). Once it had had time to rise, I sent Kristen upstairs to get them while I prepped the toppings. Then we got to work.

Both of the kids helped to roll out their own pizza crust and then got to embellish them with whatever toppings they wanted. It was a lot of fun and the pizzas were pretty darned good. I draw the line at pickled asparagus pizza, though.


The pizza dough recipe we used can be found at Giada DeLaurentis’ website. We heartily recommend it. The pizza sauce was made with one can of tomato sauce, one can of tomato soup, a tablespoon or so of tomato paste and a tablespoon or so of Italian seasoning and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Simmer until the flavours meld, then allow to cool before using.

Categories: Baking, Cooking, Just stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Slow Cookers & Stuff

Well, I’ve had my slow cooker for almost a month now and I can honestly say, I like it! It’s so easy to throw all the ingredients into the pot, turn it on, and walk away knowing that, by the time we want it, dinner will be waiting for us. The challenge, at least for me, is finding recipes that appeal to us. We like simple, good food but there needs to be a depth of flavour that so many recipes seem to be missing. We don’t use a lot of processed foods so anything that uses canned soups, and ready made “ingredients” is out.


So far, we’ve tried a lentil soup (which was delicious), Chicken Tikka Masala (which was good but the recipe needs something… it lacked depth), and today I have Provencal Daube of Beef (from a library book). It’s basically a beef stew with Mediterranean flavours, marinated in wine with herbs and orange peel, and loaded with onions, carrots, mushrooms, black olives, and tomatoes. I’m already looking forward to dinner and it’s only 8:00 a.m.!

Kristen has been sounding very interested in getting a slow cooker after sampling what we’ve been making. Her birthday was this week and that got me thinking. Last weekend, I called her and asked if she would like a slow cooker for her birthday. I wanted to head over to Canadian Tire, where I got mine, and I told her that, if they were still on sale, I’d buy one for her.

The were, sort of. I paid $29.99 (+ taxes) for mine in a post-Christmas sale; the regular price was $49.99. They were on sale for $45.99, not much of a savings but still, $4.00 is $4.00. I put it in my cart. Then, I started wandering the aisles. I didn’t realize they had a sale table with items that had been returned. There was a crock pot on that table, exactly like the one I had in my cart. I looked for a price tag, not seeing it right away. When I did finally find the price, I immediately put it in my cart and put the other one back on the shelf.

The note on the tag read “opened, not suitable” and the price? $15.00. Yes, you read that right… $15.00! She is now the proud owner of a brand new crock pot and I have someone to swap recipes with.

So, what’s in YOUR crock pot/slow cooker?

Categories: Cooking, No Knitting | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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