The Tradition Continues………..

Confetti

Confetti (Photo credit: ADoseofShipBoy)

Giving you a bit of a heads up—I am hosting a New Year’s Eve PARTY again this year. It was a great success last year, so I thought I would give it another whirl.  Please pretend that this is your gold embossed invitation to the party of the blog year. I am still lining up the entertainment but if this year is anything like last year, you will provide the best entertainment.

When:  New Year’s Eve and Day

Why:    Because there are no parties better than those attended by bloggers.

Attire:  Something festive

Theme:  Resolutions

What to bring:  A resolution you are not going to make or one you are definitely going to break

Food and Drink: Whatever goes with Champagne and ice wine

So get your party hats out of storage, bring an appetizer that rings in 2014, and join the party.

Published in: on December 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm  Comments (36)  
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Simple Pleasures

Cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream

Cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chill in my bones

Is warmed by hot chocolate

Whipped cream on my nose

Published in: on December 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm  Comments (27)  
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Cheese Puffs and Moth Balls

Chocolate Extravaganza!

Chocolate Extravaganza! (Photo credit: Rachel Ford James)

The Daily prompt by Krista was too good to ignore today. She wants us to “Tell us about the favourite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.”

I love a challenge–

1. Chocolate – but not all forms. Has to be just the right chocolate. I love a deep milk chocolate especially in combination with caramel and nuts—so I am crazy about O Henry bars. I love my Hostess cupcakes with that white filling that doubles as death by sugar; and chocolate covered almonds are to die for. But I am not crazy about chocolate chip muffins, or chocolate whip cream, or chocolate pudding.  And though dark chocolate is supposed to be good for you, it is a little bitter for my palate unless accompanied by my favourite winery’s rose.

cheese puffs, the soft kind

cheese puffs without moth balls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Cheese puffs – I do not indulge in these often as they are a useless snack of lost calories—but they bring back wonderful memories of childhood—but also one disturbing one: one of my grandmas always had these on hand for a snack but she kept them in the same cupboard with her mothballs. I was always so disappointed when she brought them out because I could not eat them as they seemed to taste like what I think mothballs would taste like.

3. Shrimp. Ice cold and dipped in slightly tangy shrimp sauce—I have to try to be demure at parties when these are served so as not to eat more than my fair share. I fail at this, as whenever someone asks a host where I am at a party—the answer is always “she is by the shrimp”.

4. Pineapple – I just love chunks of fresh pineapple.

5. Chili and pizza – no explanation needed.

7. Bread – it would kill me to find out that I am whatever that is that makes you eat gluten free.

8. Coca Cola – I so try to give it up. I poured it on an ivy plant once when I was in university and the plant rusted. Seriously, I did that. And then still drank it. I now have it only on occasion.

Français : Une cannette de Coca-Cola italienne...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. In no particular order: steak, prime rib, roasted potatoes, cheesecake, cherry pie, lamb, tomatoes out of the garden, corn on the cob dripping with butter and lightly salted, lemon chicken, scallops, stuffing, gravy, cashews, honey crisp apples, butter (shades of Paula Deen), onions, mustard, …..

10. Okay my favourite food is food except for lima beans, those cute little cabbage things—brussel sprouts, canned peas, and bad pastry that does not resemble pastry.

So, do you have a favourite food, or are you like me and just basically love food of any and (mostly) all types?

Inspired Bliss

English: As the feel of the event was all abou...

Yes, this is exactly how my family sits down to eat every night. I may give the butler the night off! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” ~Michael Pollan, from his book, “Cooked”

I am guilty of much of what Pollan is railing against in his book “Cooked”. I have been wooed by the fast food industry, courted by the industrial food moguls, and a victim of food that is not really food. And I am now inspired to cook food from scratch and not just heat up “packaged ravioli with sage-butter sauce” and consider it a “culinary achievement”.

My Achilles heel when it comes to cooking is the fact that after a while it becomes too routine, and just getting some food to the table is an accomplishment itself—no matter where it comes from—the pizza delivery guy, my freezer, or a package.

Pollan has renewed my pride in cooking, and inspired me. And real cooking can be so simple—sometimes just a quick nuking of fresh asparagus from the local farmers market with a little butter and salt and pepper will satisfy that urging; other times a full-blown meal where one has to actually touch real potatoes, chop real lettuce, and cook some fresh meat meets the criteria.

I must confess that I will still rely on frozen packaged food at times—but I am now determined to take a little more time, take it that one step further, and serve real food on a more regular basis. And I must look at it as feeding my creative beast—there are so many ways to be creative and I no longer want to limit myself to writing literary masterpieces and somewhat lame poetry (I know I am exaggerating on both ends of the scale here).

To share a meal with those you love where you have actually put some time and thought into the effort is most satisfying. If we are going to do important things like teach the art of conversation, and share and listen and navigate differences—we should do it over fare that deserves that deliberation.

Bliss is going that extra mile and fixing “real food” if not every day at least as much as possible. What do you think?

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Comments (31)  
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Heaven in a Bun: Bliss

Heaven on earth

Heaven on earth (Photo credit: MarocStoun)

Jessica from howsweetitis provided this recipe: Loaded Cheddar Hot Dogs. yep, they’re a thing! on her blog today. I am totally stealing it and hope she does not mind. I am changing the name to Heaven on Earth Hotdogs though.

I am loving this recipe, though I most likely will find a way to shorten it up as I am a lazy cook and will probably not spend 45 minutes to cook hot dogs, no matter how gourmet. I will find a way to make these in under twenty minutes in one skillet not two—I promise. Also, they say if you change one thing in a recipe it is yours—so I am changing something—those of you who want to find out what I changed, go to howsweetitis. And I would definitely double the recipe—making six hot dogs is just not enough!

Loaded Cheddar Hot Dogs

Yield: makes 6 hot dogs

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

6 hot dogs
6 whole wheat hot dog buns, toasted
1 sweet onion, diced
12 ounces of sliced mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounce cheddar cheese, freshly grated
4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
ketchup, mustard + relish

Directions:

Heat two skillets over low heat. Add one tablespoons each of olive oil and butter to both skillets. To one skillet, add diced onions with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the onions don’t burn. Remove lid and add honey, tossing to coat and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until completely caramelized. Once caramel-y, set aside.

In the meantime, add the chopped mushrooms to the (second) skillet, tossing to coat. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add in garlic and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook hot dogs as desired: either grilled or in a skillet over medium heat until browned. Place each hot dog in a bun and top with an equal amount of grated cheese. Place hot dogs under the broiler (or even back on the grill) for a minute or two just until the cheese is melted. Top with ketchup, mustard and relish, then add mushrooms, onions and bacon. If not serving immediately, wrap in aluminum foil tightly. They can be reheated this way too!

This recipe made me so hungry, I am going out to dress up some hot dogs and have them for lunch. While I am fixing them I will try not to remember why hot dogs are bad for me, or what is in some of them, or that I really should not be eating them. And for those of you who are vegetarian, health conscious, or just not into hotdogs–sorry.

My bliss today: a souped up hot dog. What is your food bliss today?

Note to readers: look in the comments–Zen A. translated the “Heaven on Earth” sign for us!

Vicious Hot Chick

(Photo credit: ~db~)

Published in: on May 11, 2013 at 4:18 pm  Comments (37)  
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Unbroken Sabbatical

While I am on a sabbatical from my blog, I still have to write my weekly column for the newspaper, so thought I would share it with you. I am not going to edit it into a post–this is how it will appear in the Kingsville Reporter this week (with a fifteen year old picture of me anchoring page 5.)

ON THE HOMEFRONT

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

Happy..Happy.. Mother’s Day (Photo credit: Thai Jasmine)

 Happy Mom’s Day

  “I got to grow up with a mother who taught me to believe in me.” ~ Antonio Villaraigosa

My hope is that my children will be able to say that they got to grow up with a mother who taught them to believe in themselves. That is one of the greatest gifts I can think of, and it is a gift my mother bestowed on me. I have been a mother for over twenty-seven years. I lost my mom when I was thirty-nine, but in those thirty-nine years she taught me a lot. And one of the things she taught me was how to be a mom.  I am still working on it  ~  it takes a lot of practice.

 Not too long after I lost my mother, I met Ida Conklin (a well known lady in Kingsville) at the bank. She expressed her sympathy at my loss. She was a bit older than my mother but she told me that one never really gets over losing their mother. And she was so right. Even as I write this today, I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. As Mother’s Day approaches, I would prefer that she were still here and that I not just have memories of her. But, the memories are many and they are precious.  I always have a hard time writing my Mother’s Day column because there is such a flood of memories—and I still cannot seem to put them in words. But, if you still have your mom, honour her. If your mom has gone to what I like to think of as a “better place” honour her memory. That is all I have to say…..for now, except Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, and goodnight.

 Another topic:

            As you know if you read this column on a somewhat regular basis, I have become a blogger—which is just another name for someone who has a presence in the ethereal regions of the internet. One of my favourite bloggers is Heidi@lightlycrunchy.wordpress.com. She has a very down home but sophisticated take on life that I really enjoy. She is not into existentialism, crazy metaphysical hokum, or super analyzing her pain and angst (at least not in her blog—but don’t get me wrong—I enjoy a little metaphysical hokum at times). She is ~ dare I say it, sensible, with a deft sense of humour. Here, just in time for spring is her post on what she intends to plant in her huge garden which she tends with the help of her family. She works outside the home and inside the home. Here is a little example of her life:

Today we cleaned up, the kids did a complete clean out of the barn and there was even a chance for a nap. I sorted through the seed order and am going to use this space to write them down. Last year I neglected to record anything and lost the packing slip, so I am leaving myself a list here where I can find it again when ordering time comes around next year. I am pretty good at keeping records, but lousy at remembering where I put them.

We’ll still have to purchase our seed potatoes, green pepper and hot pepper plants, tomatoes in several varieties and some onion sets, but this will be a good start. Next weekend we’ll start planting some seed.

dill

dill (Photo credit: sweet lil’ bunny)

Here is her order:

 2013 William Dam Seed Order: Basil – Italian Large Leaf Organic/Sweet Basil; Beans (bush) – Provider; Brussels Sprouts – Jade Cross Hybrid; Carrots – Nelson Hybrid/Baltimore Hybrid; Cucumber – Eureka Hybrid & Sweet Success Hybrid; Dill – Bouquet; Lettuce – Great Lakes 659/Buttercrunch/Bon Vivant Salad Mix/ Pinares; Melons – Diplomat Hybrid/Halona Hybrid; Onions – Ramrod/Camelot Hybrid; Parsley – Green Pearl Organic; Peas – Lincoln; Pumpkins-Dill’s Atlantic Giant/Mustang Hybrid/ Spooktacular Hybrid; Radish – Raxe; Rosemary; Sage; Spinach – Space Hybrid; Sunflower (Helianthus) – Mammoth Russian; Watermelon – Jade Star Hybrid, Full Lucky Hybrid; Zucchini – Spineless Beauty Hybrid; Leek – Jolant.”

            I know this list has some of you salivating—and your fingers are just itching to get into the soil, and I know enough to realize that you have probably already done a little planting.  Others (me included) are a little confused, yet impressed with all the seeds that Heidi has gathered, particularly the Spooktacular pumpkins and space spinach.

            Left to my own devices I would probably get a tomato plant or two—but my eldest son is raring to go on this year’s garden—so,… so be it. If you only want to garden in your mind, check out Heidi’s blog—she will keep you updated on her progress as well as show you the fruits of her labour – she cans and freezes and makes spaghetti sauce—and has a husband who cooks! (I love my husband, but I think I could love him just that bit more if he cooked.)

Politically Incorrect Wonder Years

Wonder Bread Hometown Fresh Sign

Wonder Bread Hometown Fresh Sign (Photo credit: joseph a)

As politically incorrect

as a bologna sandwich

on white bread

with mayo or mustard or sometimes both

topped with iceberg lettuce

and cut into dainty quarters

accompanied by salted potato chips

on a styrofoam plate.

Gulping down a coke

with its empty sweet but oh so delicious calories

while watching TV

a rarity in my childhood house

where most meals were served

at the dining room table ~

meals that included meat and potatoes

and a side of vegetables or two and a salad

on china plates.

Dessert

Dessert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And in those days dessert ~

because my father

who expected little, did expect dessert.

Bliss then was

a rare sandwich for supper

instead of the usual heavy healthy fare

and the best sandwich of all

was politically incorrect.

What did you eat that gave you bliss when you were a kid (or even now) that seems out of step with our nutrition crazed (and rightly so) world?

Blissfully Uninspired

shelled and unshelled pecans

shelled and unshelled pecans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a bit uninspired this week for my “It is Saturday, So It Must Be Recipe Day” so I am going to propose that we have an interactive post today. You are always great at this, so I know we are going to have fun and maybe learn a few things in the process. (Well, that sounds boring, but wait….)

My sister gave me the following recipe when I told her that I had volunteered to take the dessert to a potluck. First of all: WHAT WAS I THINKING? I usually volunteer to bring the salad, or a side dish, or bread (which is what I am bringing to a dinner tonight). But no, I got a little brave, and was buoyed by Robert Allen’s somewhat goading but inspiring quote: “Everything you want is just outside of your comfort zone.”

Yay, dump cake! :)

dump cake!  (Photo credit: Ameel Khan)

So I volunteered to make dessert. Then I panicked. Of course I make desserts for my family on occasion, and have been known to make a mean birthday cake decorated with all manner of candies, but baking for people outside my family is definitely not something even close to my comfort zone. So I asked my sister Peggy for a suggestion, and she emailed me this recipe, saying it was easy and really tasted good.

It has a rather indelicate name, and should I ever actually make it I may rename it Nutty Super Wonderful Cherry and Pineapple Cake, but for today, I will stick with the name that came with the recipe:

DUMP CAKE

1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice, undrained

1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling

1 pkg. classic yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

½ cup (I stick) of butter or margarine

i} Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13 x 9 inch pan

ii} Dump pineapple with juice into pan. Spread evenly.  Dump in pie filling. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over cherry layer. Sprinkle pecans or walnuts over cake mix. Dot with butter.

iii} Bake 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 12 – 16

Now, if you did not get the subtlety of this recipe—the word to take note of is “dump”—do not pour the ingredients into the pan, because then it would be called “Pour Cake” and that just has no personality.

No, I did not end up making this cake, but I think that I will for my husband’s birthday on March 21st as he loves cherries. The night of the potluck, I went out and bought a fancy dancey fudge chocolate bar cake decorated with chocolate curls. It was good—but I really wish I had made the dump cake.

Now here is the interactive part: this recipe probably has other renditions—if you know one, provide it for all of us interested in expanding our repertoires.

Are you familiar with this recipe or one that is blissfully similar?

Is Slow Living Bliss?

Heidi kumquat small

Heidi kumquat small, not Heidi@lightlycrunchy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 To say that Heidi @ lightlycrunchy is my favourite blogger would not be true. But she is in the upper tier of my favourites. I have never been one to have a best friend, but lots of best friends, as I never like to be exclusive. (Now whether these people feel the same about me may be a different story). Heidi is one of my best friends. Not just blog friends, as I think that is a good term, but one that categorizes people in a sort of arm’s length way. Nope, Heidi sent me a present after I admired something that she knit (a pretty Christmas-y dishcloth). No fuss, no bother—she just sent it. I have it tucked away in a drawer to bring out next Christmas to festively hand wash my dishes.

 I read every one of her posts as soon as they show up in my email, and I love her sense of humour – she turns a highly informative and useful blog into one that is enjoyable and funny. She never preaches, she just tells us what she does. She never criticizes and she is humble about her many accomplishments from cooking to sewing, knitting to growing a fantastic garden and then using the harvest in all manner of ways, to holding down a job and mothering her two girls, and bragging about her husband.

I admire her and I admire the fact that at the end of every month, no matter how busy she is she does a roundup of what the month held using terms she gleaned from Slow Living Essentials. Now when you go to her site and read her monthly round-ups, you will see that they are full of substantial entries, of things she and her family and friends and relatives did that month to fulfill the key subjects set out by Slow Living.

In my own way, I am going to attempt the same, but instead of month end, I am going to start this month of March with some goals set by using the subject titles: Nourish; Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Repair; Green; Grow; Create; Discover; Enhance; and Enjoy.

Nourish:

I am going to make a meal from a bona fide new recipe this month and not just recycle my tried and true off the cuff recipes. I am also going to continue my “If It Is Saturday, It Must Be Recipe Day” post.

International Recycling Symbol 32px|alt=W3C|li...

International Recycling Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Repair:

I am going to get my blue and red boxes to the curb this week. After missing two pick-ups (which are every other week) – I have a mound of recyclables on my back porch. By finally getting this stuff out to the curb I will repurpose my back porch—as I will be able to find it again. I will repair the back pockets on a pair of my jeans and a pair of John’s jeans, and fix my son’s game carrier—the elastic strap is broken.

Green:

I am going to recycle my recyclables. I am perhaps going to use a hint or two from Heidi, but don’t hold your breath on this one.

Remember back in the ‘90’s when all the rage was to buy green products etc? I am going to restart my earlier enthusiasm for this, and try my hand at making some green products. My sister has given me a teeth whitening recipe of 3% hydrogen peroxide and baking soda—so perhaps I will give that a whirl.  She says to only use it once a week, with your regular toothpaste.

Grow:

This one is difficult, as I have a black thumb, and not from lovely luscious humus. I will start small—maybe a violet. I have been known to be able to keep these alive. Our back garden will probably come to life down the road, but it is too soon for that.

Create:

I call writing creating, so I will continue writing. But I am thinking of getting back into my cut and paste phase—I may make some cards (something I love to do) and get back into scrapbooking. I create a lot of messes, but I do not think this counts. I love to create little vignettes around the house—and since it is time to replace the snowmen with something a little less wintry—I will be doing a little interior decorating.

Discover (magazine)

Discover magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discover:

This one is easy. I am a curious soul, so discovering is something I love to do. I am planning on spending an afternoon in my local library to write an article about it for my weekly newspaper column. I visit the library often, but do not spend a lot of time there in one sitting. I want to discover what goes on there and what I may be missing.

Enhance (Community):

As the municipal reporter for our local paper, I like to think I enhance the community by writing up articles that inform the residents of what is going on in the town and what they should be expecting.

Enjoy:

This can take in so many things—do not think I will make a prediction here.

So, at the end of the month, I will write up an end of the month round-up, and we will see what we will see. Thanks for the idea Heidi. Join me if you like.

Can slow living (my definition: mindful living) be the answer to our bliss?

Published in: on March 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm  Comments (28)  
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Bliss Covered in Syrup

English: French toast served at Mac's Restaura...

French toast . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honour of my son Tyler who is going back to school today after his Reading Week at college (something we more honestly called Slack Week when I was at university), I am going to provide you with a recipe of sorts – one that I am going to make for him this morning for the third time this week.

He loves French toast. Loves it. Can’t get enough of it. And he is always appreciative when I take the little time it takes to make this breakfast of champions (though sometimes we make it for lunch, and on occasion, supper.)

Tyler is my picky eater. Every family has one, but since he has been away at school his taste buds have expanded to include salad, grilled cheese sandwiches (his must have real cheddar cheese, bacon if he has it, and raspberry jam) and stuffed pasta (he used to eat pasta with just butter and salt—now he will eat three cheese ravioli), and sweet potato fries.

He was never a picky eater by choice—some things appealed to him and other things did not. Food had a yuck factor for him, and some of it still does, but I find it interesting that once he has been exposed to a variety of other foods outside our home, he is more likely to try them. He has five roommates in the house he lives in at college (which is only two blocks from Fanshawe in London) and so he is exposed to a lot of different tastes. They all  have one thing in common though: Pizza (which I consider a major food group and so do they).

I remember when I was in university (about the time that pizza was brought to the new world), I would eat pizza almost every night in residence—a bunch of us would go together and order one after studying or getting back from the school pub.

I realize I have digressed from today’s recipe—but French toast is not all that complicated.

French Toast à la Tyler

White bread – as many slices as you need to feed the people you are feeding ~ Tyler always has 3

I egg for every three slices of bread

English: Cinnamon

English: Cinnamon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Splash of milk

A little vanilla

Cinnamon sprinkled in

Syrup and butter – enough to drown the toast

Using a whisk, whisk the eggs and milk and vanilla and cinnamon together. Dunk the bread and put it in a hot frying pan. We just got a new big non stick frying pan and can cook three pieces at once. We flip them when one side gets nice and toasty. I eat the burnt ones.

I know this is not an official recipe – it is just a bit of a map that takes us on a journey to syrupdom.  It is meant to be more nostalgic than directive—but it is the last day I will see Tyler for several weeks (Easter is coming up)—so it is my goodbye to him today. (Don’t feel too sorry for me, I email him every day and I am one of his ten on his phone plan that he can call without charge—so we talk a lot).

Do you have any nostalgic recipes that give you or your family bliss?

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