Monday, 29 August 2011

Quick! Fix it before its Condemned

We are painting our house.

It has been neglected for a while.

The inside is also a work in progress

We find that every time we improve one thing it makes everything else look shabby.

I get inspiration from the designer blogs I follow.

I get discouraged from the designer blogs I follow.

This is not our house.
Our house is a Cape Cod style.
We are conscious not to over improve for the area.

This is the color we've chosen.

with this trim

and white casement windows.

and the front door this color.

or maybe this.

or this

or this

We are not adventurous people.

This is how we hope it will look.

Our dormers will be taupe and we don't have that great front porch on which we could sit and sip and stare at the neighbors.

This porch is also in the to-do list.

The Husband is scared.

Between work, kids, house painting and  life - I may be sporadic in posts but I'll still sneak in some time to read about your lives.

AND, Sean goes away on Wednesday at 6:15 AM for a 5 day ocean kayaking adventure in the Gulf Islands of the coast of Vancouver Island and I'm not even panicking!
I think I may have realized that he can take care of himself.

Or  maybe I am in denial.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Gnocchi aka little pillows of delicious

This is a small harvest of my garden garlic - only a few survived the husbands Spring rototilling  and re-established themselves in some fairly unusual places.

These were in with the zucchini

The other day is was raining (surprise! no...)  and chilly (surprise? no...) so I made gnocchi.  

They were so delicious. 

I didn't take a picture as they are quite white with a quite-white cheese and cream sauce.  Next time  I make them I will try a tomato and pesto sauce - and post a picture. Or sprinkle them with parsley. 

They were so delicious.  

 Here's the recipe

3 large Potatoes (baking type)
1 large Egg
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
Little bit freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
2 cups  Flour - more or less

boil  potatoes until soft (not so soft  that they are falling apart)

Drain until cool enough to touch. (The hotter the potatoes are when they are  riced, the lighter the gnocchi will be.) Put the  potatoes through a potato ricer - ricing is important. Let them cool completely.

Beat the egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together. Mix together potatoes, cheese and about 1 2/3 cup flour and make a well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well. Mix together gently with your fingers. This dough is sticky so rub the sticky bits off your hands and back into the dough.  Use the extra flour as needed.  The dough should be light and rollable when its ready.  Don't put in too much flour though as the gnocchi will be heavy dough balls. You will use more flour to roll "snakes"
Dust the dough, your hands, the floor and the work surface lightly with  flour. Cut off a chunk of dough and roll into a long rope, snake, about 1/2" thick and flour (verb) as necessary.. 

(When you first begin making gnocchi, until your hands get the feel of the dough, you may find it easier to cut each piece of dough into smaller more manageable pieces to roll it.)

Slice the ropes into 3/4 " long pieces. 

 You can then press a thumbprint into each or roll down the tines of a fork but I don't bother. Put the cut pieces a baking sheet lined with a floured kitchen towel and continue making gnocchi from the remaining dough.
 At this point  you can boil the gnocchi  (done when they float to the surface of the water) or you can freeze them to cook later.

Alfredo Sauce
2 cups Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Butter
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Boil cream in a hot skillet, add remaining ingredients and stir til cheese is melted.  Add cooked gnocchi - stir til covered.  Pour onto a big plate, sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and chow down!

You can also toss cooked gnocchi into a  pan with some butter, tumble them around and let them brown on each side and add to this pan the following or combinations of the following:

Gnocchi with Stuff Added
3 cups White Beans, cooked or canned
1 cup  Mushrooms sliced 
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
3 medium Shallots, diced or sliced
1 grated Garlic Clove
a big handful of Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half 
melted Butter or Olive Oil
splash of Cream 
 grated Parmesan

I think I need to plan a trip to Italy...........

..... to try their gnocchi

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I'm So Blue.... berried, that is.

It's blueberry season in the Okanagan !

Blueberry Cream Pie

1 1/2 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup  Sugar
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Lard (you can use Butter if you like)
1 Egg (mix it up)

Heat oven to 400 deg F.
Put first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse, add egg, pulse till it starts to come together, dump it out onto counter and knead a few times, wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for 1/2 hour or till chilled and the moisture has absorbed into the flour.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface and put into a 9" pie pan.
Crimp the edges, poke the pastry with a fork several times so that big air bubbles don't grow, and bake for 12 - 13 min.
The dough is a bit cookie-like and will look like a golden sugar cookie when ready.
Let the crust cool before pouring in the filling - room temperature or cooler.

 If its warm, the filling will melt into a puddle and you will not be happy!

2 cups Whipping Cream
1/2 cup  Sugar
1 packet (or 1 tbsp) Gelatin
2 tbsp Water
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1 tbsp Orange Zest
3 cups Blueberries

1/2 cup Red Currant Jelly
1 tbsp Water

Whip the cream with sugar until it starts to thicken. Place cold water in a small pan, sprinkle gelatin over and let sit  until gelatin begins to soften, about a minute. Stir over very low heat until it's dissolved. Let this cool.

 Again, melted and runny whipped cream is what you will get if the gelatin is too hot and lumps of jelly bits is what you'll have if it's too cold, remind you of Goldilocks?  it must be "just right".
When it is "just right" whip the cream on low speed and pour in the "just right" gelatin.
When the gelatin is blended in beat the cream on high speed until soft peaks form.
Fold in almond extract and orange zest.
Pour this mixture into the cooled pie shell.
Top with blueberries.
Melt jelly and water over low heat until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly and drizzle over berries.

This pie must be stored in the fridge and is best eaten the day it's made.

So glad to have the Blues!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Small sample of the Outdoor Adventure

Once again, I worried for nothing.

He was able to set up  his tent.
He was able to cook his own meals.
He helped other students when they needed him.
He joked and laughed and shared his lasagna in a bag (which I am told was very delicious).


He wasn't cold.
He wasn't wet.
His new hiking boots didn't give him blisters.
They didn't see bears.
He didn't fall off the mountain.
He didn't miss me.

They went high enough to find snow and then made snow angels.
(this is not my boy)

This was "who can leap the farthest from the highest rock".

It is such a good thing that I wasn't there to say "don't do that, you'll get hurt!"

The smile on his face is still ear to ear and he can hardly wait for the next adventure.

Ocean Kayaking!

(Really...  I'll be fine)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Summer, I'll miss you when you're Gone

My strawberries are still producing and will do so until October (or until the snow!)

We had this after lunch.....

...and then did this.....

Then we came home and made pizza on the barbecue, theirs had cheese and mine did not.  

Their pizza looked better than mine but I don't think it tasted better.  Mine had caramelized onions and chicken on a bed of barbecue sauce, a sprinkle of goat cheese and some mesclun greens.  yum.

After dinner I made apricot jam.  

Then I went to bed and look forward to seeing my boy back from his first Earthquest expedition into the Cathedrals today - I can hardly wait!.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Love This Footwear!

Kobi Levi

I think you would need to have killer legs to pull off wearing these shoes.

Killer Legs and a truck load of Confidence.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Here's the Recipe, Gary. Enjoy!

Fresh Salsa
3 tbsp finely chopped Onion (red, white, yellow - doesn’t matter)
2  - 3 cloves Garlic, also finely chopped
3 large ripe Tomatoes, (peeled and seeded) cut into bite size chunks and preferably fresh from the garden
2 hot Peppers, finely chopped (lots of people use jalapeno but I use cayenne or thai chilis)
2 to 3 tbsp fresh Cilantro (coriander) rough chop
1 tsp Chili Powder
½ tsp Cumin
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp Lime juice (Lemon juice works well also)
1 pinch white Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste (I use lemon pepper)
 Wash veg, peel, chop, dice and add to large bowl.  This is the base recipe and you can eat this with corn chips or baked flour tortilla chips or with a spoon but you can also add stuff to change up the flavor like Corn, diced Papaya or Mango, Kiwi, crumbled Feta Cheese, Roasted Bell Peppers, or my favorite – Avocado!  I usually add 2/3 to 1 cup.  Sometimes I will add two of the ingredients but not usually more than two.

I also make some  pretty good chips to eat with this salsa although you can eat this as a side serving with chicken, pork, fish, quesadillas, garlic toast, eggs, ice cream,  meat loaf - this list goes on and on .   
The recipe for the chips is a few posts back on Crisps, Fruit and Newts – and no, there are no newts in the recipe.

Let me know how you change it up this salsa recipe so I can try other options too!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Raspberries and Salsa and Mysterious Weight Gain

I was having trouble figuring out why, when picking raspberries, I had the sudden and intense urge to make and eat  fresh salsa.  Everyday when I went out there I had to abandon picking part way through to make, and eat, this salsa.  With chips.  

Yesterday it dawned on me.  
The raspberry patch is right next to the herb garden which is full of cilantro.

Wonderful Cilantro!

Mystery solved! and man is that salsa delicious.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cat's motto: No matter what you've done wrong, always try to make it look like the dog did it.

I have found a new respect for cats.

I have always liked cats and have even lived with cats but often find them to be too self serving.

Feed me!
Clean my litter box!
Let me out!
Let me in!
Rub my ears!
Rub my belly - no! not like that! scratch- claw- hiss - run away.

During my two + weeks away from work I drove Younger Son to a friends house for a sleep over.
When we pulled into the driveway Son's Friend was riding his bike down the road - his cat was on the bike with him and had it's back legs on the cross bar and front paws on the handle bars. Wind blowing in its face and looking very relaxed and comfortable.

 Now that's my kind of cat!

Yup, I have a whole new respect for the cat.

This is not him (because I didn't have my camera or phone) but this is what he looked like except with a rider and moving along at a pretty good pace.

 A cat chillin hard on a bike outside my old job.

The SPCA have a lot of them and would love it if you would like to take one home with you.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Is that Jelly or just Vacation Brain?

This is the "sorry you have to go back to work" breakfast that my boys served to me on Monday, my last day of summer vacation.  That face looks eerily similar to mine - I think it's the blank-eye stare.

I am back from my holidays and find that my brain has turned to jelly. 
 I think that happens when it's not challenged enough or maybe gets too much fresh air or is shaken up by too many boat rides. Maybe its from packing up too many picnic lunches, snacks, drinks, sun screen and necessities and listening to "aren't you ready yet mom ?"

 Perhaps it turned to jelly because I had more (way more)  than my normal one cocktail every two weeks.  

It might be because I spent too much time with several energetic teenagers or inhaled too much mountain hike dust  and campfire smoke or absorbed too many of the suns rays.  Maybe it was the hours I spent behind the wheel of the car driving to fun outings that the kids wanted to experience.

 Maybe my brain is like jelly because I've been worrying about Son Number 1 who goes hiking for four days in the Cathedral mountains a week today.

 It's not the hike that bothers me as much as the bears that live there. 
He will be eating food from a package.   I hate to admit that on a test-run meal  we tried one night around midnight that I think he likes it as much as a made from scratch meal made with real ingredients!  Boy, have I wasted a lot of time in the kitchen.

Next year I am insisting that my husband take holidays the same time as I do so that we can relax and turn into jelly together.