Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Simple One Bowl Cake.

While I usually use them as guidelines, I have to admit, I like to collect recipes!!!!
I do know however that there are times when one really should completely follow a recipe.... or follow it as best they can! The best example of this is when you bake!

Recently I took a look through some of my dessert recipes and discovered one that I've had for quite a few years but have never made, not even once! I read it, stunned... One bowl cake!? Why have I not tried this sooner?! I am all about easy meals, easy desserts, easy breezy goodness.

So tonight I set to making it just after supper and here is the recipe to share with you! Think of your Grandma when I tell you to remember to sift your flour for better results! ha ha! However, as per my usual, if you can't sift than oh well, I'm sure your cake will turn out just fine!

One Bowl Cake,
Recipe from an old friend's grandma, 2006

1 1/2 cups flour (or pastry flour if you will)
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar

Sift and add all ingredients together into one bowl.

6 tbsp. soft shortening
1/2 cup milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix with ingredients in bowl. Then add 2 unbeaten eggs.
Bake for 30 mins @ 350 F.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Last Harvest.

I just wanted to share this photo with you all before it's winter time! It's of my last harvest... And while it was all very fresh and delicious, I must admit, I just like the assortment of colours in this photo! Nature's rainbow in a garden... hehe....

My last harvest.

Tiny red onions (although small, they were potent!!), cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes.... The bottom left tomato is a small beefsteak, and the one on the right is an heirloom tomato (which I started from seed!)....

Growing your own food is truly satisfying! :)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Winter Planters.

Whether it's because I am Canadian or not, I have always liked the look of freshly fallen snow on top of well, anything! (Yes I admit I like snow, but I suppose only for a while, that is until it turns into slush. Yuck!) But freshly fallen snow just looks so pretty on top of trees and bushes. To help brighten up my pathway at home, I decided to make some winter planters for the winter season and will explain how I did so below. The best thing about these planters is that they help spruce up one's house exterior for the Christmas season, yet the look is suitable for the entire winter season!

The Finished Product.
My walkway planters, currently awaiting some snow!!!

Items Used:
  •  A Planter Pot (able to sustain cold temperatures)
  • Sticks, Boughs, Berries, whatever wild things you can find
  • Dirt and/or Sand (it doesn't matter what you use since the sticks do not need to grow roots and are not expected to live)
  • Rocks
  • Place rocks in the bottom of the planter pot (this will help weigh it down and protect the final product from blowing over)
  • Pour some dirt or sand into the pot. Fill approx. half of the pot.
  • Stick the tallest of your wild findings in the centre of the pot of dirt/sand.
  • Start sticking the other branches and pieces into the dirt/sand revolving around the the tallest one in the centre.
  •  Continue sticking in pieces until you have none left.
  • Place planter along walkway, under window, by door, etc... for a beautiful wintery feel - Well, after it snows!!!!
  • To help visually balance the planter, try thinking of the planter as a clock. If you stick something in at 2 O'clock, try sticking the same type of piece in at 6 and 10 O'Clock. This will help balance out the look of the branches and overall feel of the planter.
  • Also, the look of these planters could be greatly improved had I used more attractive plant pots.... but ya gotta love reusing what you have (Recycle, Reduce, Reuse)!!!!

The Finished Goods (awaiting snow!):

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Frozen Soup Pucks

I tend to make large batches of whatever I cook. This is due to a few reasons, mainly because I rarely use recipes and also enjoy having extra food on hand for friends and family. I recently learned a new trick to help prolong the life of your food by freezing the left over portions! This is done by the use of a muffin tin. How ingenious!

To freeze a cream/blended soup, simply pour the right amount of soup into each individual muffin tin. Be careful not to overfill as the contents will expand once frozen. Freeze.

To freeze a broth soup, it is safe to assume there will be chunks of meat, veggies, etc in the soup. In this case, it will be hard to pour a perfect mix of broth and other ingredients so here is another ingenious idea; Use half the muffin tin to freeze broth and the other half to freeze the ingredients. However, try to cover the ingredients in a bit of broth. Don't worry if it's not perfect. Freeze.

Frozen Ginger-Carrot Soup in a muffin tin.

 Frozen Soup.

 2-3 soup "pucks" would make a nice portion once melted!

For either soup:  Place frozen muffin tin in a sink with a bit of hot water. Let the muffin tin simply it in water, sort of like a puddle! After a couple of minutes, the bottom of the tin will become warm. Take the tin out of the water and flip it upside down over a clean counter; this will release the soup into what I call "soup pucks". If you're lucky, all the pucks will fall out.... Otherwise you may have to put the tin back into hot water. OR you can also keep the tin upside down on the counter and bang it a little. haha... This method seems to work nicely for me!

Once all the pucks are out you will want to freeze them. What I like to do is put some into plastic bags and some into containers. I eat the ones in containers sooner than the plastic bag ones. Why? freezer burn will happen quicker on things in open containers and since these are pucks, you cannot fill a whole container without wrecking the puck shape, thus, plastic bags work better to wrap around the puck shape.

Soup Pucks in plastic bags.

Cream/Blended soup: Place 2-3 soup pucks into a small pot or pan (this amount should be enough for an individual meal). Place on burner on low-medium heat.  Wait for pucks to begin to thaw out. Stir. Once pucks have thawed, keep on burner for a couple minutes to ensure all contents are at the same temperature before consumption. Once at suitable temperature, take off burner, pour into bowl and eat!!!!

Broth soup: Place 2 pucks into a small pot or pan. Since these soup pucks have more broth in certain ones, you will need to adjust the amount of pucks to thaw depending on whether or not you want more broth or frozen ingredient pucks (and as well as how many people are eating). You may want to thaw out 3 pucks to get a good mix of broth and veggies/other ingredients. 

Place on burner on low-medium heat.  Wait for pucks to begin to thaw out. Stir. Once pucks have thawed, keep on burner for a couple minutes to ensure all contents are at the same temperature before consumption. Once at suitable temperature, take off burner, pour into bowl, and eat!!!!

but most of all, ENJOY!!!!!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Two chilis on the go.....

I woke up today and decided to make some chili. Seeing as I love my slow cooker and simply love smelling food cook all day, I opted to use it! I rummaged through the fridge and cupboards to use what ingredients I had. Without any beef I decided to use some Italian veggie ground. From my experience most people have a hard time telling the difference between real meat and veggie ground once cooked; It is all in how you flavour it you see! Using the Italian kind of veggie ground is best for things like pasta, chilis, etc., but you can also buy other flavours too!Veggie ground breaks up nicely whether it is frozen so try it sometime as I find it good just to have on hand.
My boyfriend Ben knew I was going to make chili so he bought some ground beef when he returned from the grocery store after a meeting earlier today. I had already started the veggie chili and while he doesn't mind veggie chili, the look in his eye told me he was hoping for a thick meaty chili - you know guys and their meat obsessions, haha. Soooo I decided to make two batches of delicious chili goodness; one meaty and one vegetarian! Chili is so easy to freeze and I like stocking up the freezer, so two chili's on the go seemed like a good idea to me!

Fresh ingredients, unchopped.

 Homemade pressed garlic in oil next to a variety of things: chopped onion, red pepper, hot pepper, green pepper, celery, tomatoes, mushrooms...... 

The following are my chili guidelines as I hardly ever follow or use recipes! I am also a huge advocate of using whatever you have around. In this case, I had no beans for either chili. oops?! But you see, that's alright! It'll still taste delicious! hehe...

  • 1 package of Yeve's Italian veggie ground
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large hot chili pepper 
  • Garlic to taste (use fresh or minced in oil)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Spices: Cumin, Chili, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Sweet chili and pepper spice (Club House brand)
 Cooking Method:
  • Place veggie ground in a slow cooker or large pot and if frozen let de-thaw  with lid on until you can break it all up
  • Add garlic and onions, stir
  • Add all other ingredients, stir
  • Cook on low with lid on for approx. 6 hours
  • Enjoy!

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (1 lb is usually enough, but I was a bit lazy and didn't want to refreeze the other half, lol)
  • garlic to taste (use fresh or minced in oil)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • a bunch of mushrooms , sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 can of tomatoes (I didn't have crushed tomatoes so I chopped up these!) 
  • 1 real tomato, chopped
  • Spices: Cumin, Chili, Salt
  • Other: A few squirts of hot sirachia sauce (that red bottle of sauce with a rooster on it found at Chinese food places at the mall)
Cooking Method:
  • Brown beef in a large pot (or slow cooker)
  • Add garlic and onions, stir
  • Add all other ingredients except for mushrooms, stir
  • Add mushrooms once other ingredients have mixed around a bit. Why? Cuz I don't like mushrooms to get mushy.
  • Cook on low with lid on for approx. 6 hours
  • Enjoy!

  • If your chili is too watery, try adding a can of tomato paste to help thicken it up. You can also try simmering the chili on low without a lid.
  • Using fresh ingredients is best, but canned vegetables can be used as well
  • Basically, use whatever ingredients you have and have fun!!!

Beef Chili. YUM!

    Tuesday, 22 November 2011

    Autumn and Christmas Wreaths.

    Last year when I lived in a small town, I went for a long walk on a country trail on a nice Autumn day. Without knowing what I was doing, I instinctively gathered some grapevine and casually worked it into a circle, careful not to snap the fresh vine. I added some freshly fallen autumn leaves, headed home and hung the makeshift wreath outside and left it there. The leaves faded and eventually fell off. By Spring time, my creation had hardened and became a beautifully sturdy start to an eventual wreath. I brought it inside and hid it somewhere in my craft room only to forget about it until this past Autumn....
    Around this past Thanksgiving all the leaves outside began to change colour and it dawned on me that I had a circle of grapevine that I could use for an actual wreath. I used what I had available to me from my collection of random art/craft supplies. I added some leaves, some butterflies and other brass charms.... I enjoy this wreath very much in its simplicity! I hope you do too!

    I loved having this my door!
    Items Used:
    • Grapeleaf vines
    • fake autumn leaves and berries
    • sparkly gold butterflies
    • a few random brass charms
    • hot glue gun + glue

    Since I enjoyed having a wreath up during October and into November, I decided I should make one for Christmas as well. I had a string of plain garland, some poinsettias (as part of a candle ring) and some sparkly green butterflies (as you can guess, I like butterflies!). I twisted the garland into a circle... ok, as good as a circle as I could and began gluing on the poinsettias. I added the green butterfly but took them off as they were too distracting. This wreath is simple as well but I like it!!!

     My super easy Christmas Wreath!

    Items Used:
    • 1 string of garland
    • 2 candle rings with poinsettias
    • fake pine cones and berries
    • 4 tiny bells
    • hot glue gun + glue

    Monday, 21 November 2011

    Shoulda started this sooner!!!

    Hello World!
    This blog has been just waaaiiiting to finally happen! And here it is; A collection of all my personal Cooking and Crafting experiences and stories! And I cannot forget a little Gardening too!!!