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Dessert!

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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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.

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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.

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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

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

Last Day of 2015

I suppose the last day of the year is a time for reflection on what has passed and looking forward to a new start but I’m not going to do that. It’s been a year I’m happy to put behind us. Yes, there’s been plenty of good but there has also been heartache. I would rather concentrate on the now.

It will likely be a quiet New Year’s Eve for us. Kristen and the kids will probably not be here as she’s come down with some kind of bug. I’ll try to stay up until midnight to help ring in the new year but, realistically, I rarely stay up that late. Part of today will be spent making olie bollen (fritters) and I may make some soap but I’m not even sure about that yet.

I do know I will be doing some knitting… have already, in fact. John’s cardigan is coming along, if slowly. The back is finished and I’m working on the fronts simultaneously, sort of. I started with the right side and have it almost to the armhole shaping. Then I decided it would be a good idea to work on the left side as well, and get it to the same point, then work the shaping at the same time. That way, the shaping will be the same, at the same time.

Incidentally, the soap making thing? It’s really coming along. I’ve been making, and selling, quite a bit of soap. Christmas, it seems, is a good time for soap sales. This week, I even made shaving soap… real, use a brush, soft, creamy, shaving soap. It’s awesome!

Anyway, I need to get this day going. To all of you, from all of us, we wish you a very happy 2016. I’ll borrow an image, posted by an online friend, that perfectly describes what I wish for all of you.

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Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Review | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

White Christmas Indeed!

We did, indeed, have our forecasted white Christmas. And it hasn’t stopped snowing yet. Here are a few images we took yesterday (by “we”, I mean Ethan and I; he stayed the night).

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Our back yard. It doesn’t look quite the same this morning as the kids played back there later in the day. And there’s more snow there now.

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My car, before Ethan and I cleaned it off. There’s about 8″ of snow on there. We used a broom to clear it off and, even so, it took nearly half an hour to clear off the car and the snow immediately around the car!

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My helper. The two things they forgot to bring were his snow pants and his boots. He definitely had fun, though. He did have mittens but when you’re playing with a remote control car (all weather vehicle), mittens just don’t work!

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The guys who belong to the trucks cleared the driveway for us, thankfully. John was under the weather and barely got out of bed all day. Charlie was having a blast, looking for her (imaginary) ball.

Categories: Blogging, The Weather | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Almost Christmas

Time certainly flies when there’s much to do. It’s almost Christmas already. Here, in the house, you’d never know. The only decorations up are the Christmas cards that have been trickling in and the giant 3D snowflake Trinity made for us.

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While the kids were here yesterday, we made a batch of sugar cookies; Ethan was more interested in breaking eggs and adding ingredients while Trinity was most helpful when it came to rolling out the dough and cutting it with cookie cutters. We embellished them very simply with some coarse vanilla sugar. When they left, I gave Kristen a small tin of cookies and kept a small tin for ourselves.

Sugar cookies

Today, I’ll be baking up a couple of very Dutch recipes, speculaas squares and koek, a spiced loaf cake. If you’re interested, you can find the recipe on my cooking blog (also sorely neglected), In Ev’s Kitchen.

We’ve decided to go completely non-traditional with this year’s Christmas dinner. When I asked Kristen what we should have, and suggested turkey, she nixxed the idea right away. Between the three of us, Kristen, John, and myself, we decided to have a prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings and a variety of vegetables. No stuffing, unfortunately. That’s my favourite part of Christmas dinner. Yorkies make up for it a little bit, I suppose. They’re definitely a favourite around here.

As for Christmas day, the weather man has guaranteed that we’ll be having a white Christmas this year. There’s snow on the ground now, with light snow falling.

Snow

To all of my family and friends, I hope you have a wonder-full, safe Christmas and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2016.

Christmas Tree Hand-Lettering

 

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cooking, Just stuff, No Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sun Still Rises

I’ve been spending some time working on John’s cardigan this week. I think I’m making pretty good progress.

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I still need to work about two inches until the shoulder shaping. I’ve also been making more soap. This week’s batch is another batch of the BNA Blackstrap Ale soap. I’m really pleased with how my soaps are turning out. They look good (in my very humble opinion); they are not strongly scented (I don’t like overwhelmingly scented soaps); they lather (that’s the important part!).

BNA Batch2

The colourant in this one is, once again, cocoa for the bottom part and titanium dioxide to make the foam, along with a hanger swirl to make the “foam” swirl.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. What does it have to do with knitting and soap? Nothing, really. It is, however, relevant to my family’s experiences this past week. It’s a reminder not to focus on the difficult times, a reminder that there is another day coming, a day that will bring new beginnings, new experiences, even, perhaps, joy. Right now, joy is difficult to imagine.

My family is hurting this week with a pain that will never fully go away. On Tuesday afternoon, my eldest grandson, Zachary, was found dead in his apartment. I will not go into details other than to say he and his roommate were both found deceased. Until the cause of his death is known, we’ll have to wait for a funeral. Please, if you pray, keep us in your prayers. Both his parents are, justifiably, devastated. We all have a hole in our hearts that will never completely heal but we do know that sun will rise tomorrow and our lives will go on.

Zach

Categories: Blogging, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So… Colour Me an Idiot

John’s cardigan is coming along. I worked on it for a bit last night and came to a realization.

Let me back up a bit. Before I cast on any project, I choose the size I’ll knit and circle or highlight the numbers for that size I’m knitting, usually as I go along. I did the same with this cardigan. Except….. sigh…

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I’m up to the arm scye shaping and my stitch count was out. Apparently, after 17.5″, I cast on for the wrong size, one size larger than the size I had intended to knit. It’s only a few stitches difference and I don’t think it will really matter a lot but, really??

I’ve been knitting how long?? (Since I was seven, thank you very much.)

Did I mention I’d already knit seventeen and one half inches? I am NOT frogging it. John may have room to grow but from what I’ve already checked, it will fit him just fine.

What was I thinking?? Or maybe I did intend to cast on for that size and I circled the wrong numbers.

I think I’ll go make some soap.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

October Means Halloween

It seems we have a tradition started. Living in an apartment doesn’t give Kristen and the kids much room, or a place, for pumpkins. Last year, she and the kids brought their pumpkins here and carved them. Yesterday, we repeated that event.

They picked up their pumpkins from a local grower and brought them over here for carving while I was finishing up another batch of soap.

A fun and productive afternoon was had by all.

Categories: Blogging, Finished, Garden, Just stuff, No Knitting, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just Another Weekend

It’s been… hmm… I was going to say that it’s been a quiet weekend so far but it hasn’t, really. On Friday, our kitchen baseboard heater decided to stop working… again. It does this every year – works for a week or two, then stops working for the rest of the year. We’ve been lucky enough to have an extra space heater that we’ve been using but it has decided it’s usefulness had expired this year and has now become nothing but garbage.

We let the landlord know about the heat situation and, on Friday night, K showed up to check the heater, the wiring, and whatever else he could determine. Yesterday, he and the landlord came by with a new heater to install but there seems to be some kind of an issue with wiring so, for the moment, we have no heat in the kitchen. Thankfully, it’s not yet cold enough that it’s an issue but it has made for a busy kitchen. By the time I returned from my shopping trip, there were three men and two dogs in my kitchen, with furniture all over the room, making it something of an obstacle course.

Later, Kristen and the kids came by for a fire and some roasted marshmallows. They even brought “coloured fire”, some packets of chemicals that you throw into the fire to make some fun and funky colours. I think it would have been more effective if we’d waited until dark but it was fun anyway. After a few marshmallows each, Kristen suggested we all go out for dinner and she managed to talk John into it. After a bit of discussion, we ended up at the Mission Tap House; if you’re in Kelowna and looking for a decent place to go for a meal, try it; everyone enjoyed their meals. I was the only one with leftovers, only because I really wasn’t all that hungry, not because it wasn’t good.

I even managed to get a batch of soap made. I’ve been watching a video channel (Soaping 101) and she’s made a couple of videos in which she takes a popular brand of soap (in this case, Dove) and breaks down their ingredients, creates a formula and makes a copy. I decided to try her recipe, now that I have all the supplies on hand. I added a scent (ylang ylang – just a little bit) and a little bit of silk protein, just because I still have some.

NoDoveBefore we even left for dinner, I was able to remove the soap from the mold; it was still a bit warm but already quite hard. By the time we got home, I cut it. Had I waited until this morning, I think it might have been too hard to cut! Do you see the white flecks in the soap? That’s from the titanium dioxide I used to colour half the batter. It’s nothing but cosmetic, just a little bit of interest in an otherwise pure white bar.

It needs to cure for at least 3-4 weeks but I’m looking forward to trying this soap.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, there has been knitting. I have about 12″ done on the back of John’s sweater and I’ve started the third ball of yarn. At this point, apart from 12″ of straight on knitting, there’s not much to see. Imagine the last picture, doubled, and you get the idea.

Today, the plan is to make another batch of the first soap I made, the Coconut Milk soap, my personal favourite so far. After that, it’s all up in the air but I do anticipate some progress on John’s sweater.

 

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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