Halloween Pinwheel Cookies

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Halloween is only a month away.  Which means Christmas is 86 days away, which means New Year’s Day is 93 days away.  Which means the first day of Spring is only 171 days away.

Now that you are all freaked out about how soon all these special dates are coming, lets get to some fun Halloween stuff.

I have a recipe for Christmas Pinwheel cookies that is extremely versatile.  I usually just make them at Christmas time, mainly because they can be a tad time consuming to make due to making the dough one day, then baking the next.    So you have to make sure you clear your calendar for 2 days.  Tell your boss you can’t come to work for the next 2 days because you have to make these cookies.  I am sure he will understand, especially if you bring some in for him.

Did you see that? Off I went again on another sidebar discussion.  Halloween.  Back to Halloween.

Here is an irresistible Halloween treat that once you have made and served them to your family, you are doomed to making them forever.  You are welcome.

Halloween Pinwheel Cookies

Halloween Pinwheel Cookies

Ingredients

4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 1/3 Cups Un-Salted Butter
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
2/3 Cups White Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Food Colouring (paste or liquid) in colours of choice

Directions

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Resift again into another bowl.

2. Beat the butter with the brown and white sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until evenly blended. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two equal parts.  (Dough will be a bit sticky at first, once you add the food colouring and work it in, it becomes less sticky.  Having a kitchen that is cooler helps, alternately, place the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes, then proceed to rolling out the dough.)  Place one half in a second bowl. Add one of the chosen food colorings to the dough in one bowl, and the other to the other dough. Use a fork or wooden spoon to blend the food coloring into the dough until evenly blended. Add additional drops of food coloring to until desired shade is reached.

3.  Roll out the one dough ball to 1/4 inch (5mm) thickness. Roll out the other ball of dough to 1/4 inch (5mm) thickness, and place on top of the first one. Beginning on one long side edge, roll the dough up together to make a log so the two colors spiral inside each other. Wrap the log in waxed paper, then in a cotton towel, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or use parchment paper.

5. Unwrap the dough log, and place on a clean, lightly floured surface. Slice the log into rounds 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, and place on prepared baking sheets.

6. Bake in preheated oven until set, 5 to 6 minutes. * Watch carefully to prevent edges from over browning, not all ovens are the same so pay attention to how long the first batch cooks and go from there.

Remove from oven, and cool on racks.  Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

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Next Week’s Menu

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Boy, has this week ever flown by.  It is already Friday and we have had such a gorgeous week full of sunshine and warm weather it almost feels like August again.  For the third week in a row, I have tried to make Lemon Thyme Chicken, each time, it was subbed out at the last minute by something else.  This week was no different. We had a great excuse this time though.

After we launched the boat on Monday afternoon, we woke up Tuesday to a perfect day for fishing.  We eagerly headed out to our favourite fishing hole and were able to catch our limit in less than an hour, thus having a darn tasty pickerel dinner that night.  It was long overdue and we savoured every delicious bite.

We are hoping for a continuation of great weather this weekend as Pickerel season ends October 15th in our area, that doesn’t leave many opportunities left to enjoy one of Nature’s best tasting freshwater fish.

Maybe next Friday I will try and get the Lemon Thyme chicken into the menu for the following week, try being the operative word here….

Here is your weekly meal inspiriation and I hope you enjoy the weekend wherever it takes you.

and remember,  Don’t Drink & Drive!

maple leaves green frameFor anyone wanting to try our old family recipe for a baked pickerel dinner, click here.

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Daunting Dock Dilemma Decked!

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Mother Nature = 1

Hubby = 1

Tie Round, lets hope there isn’t a Rubber Match next Spring.

Mid-April this year saw our dock get trashed in less than a minute from a very peeved and obviously menopausal Mother Nature.  This is the before shot.  The lake was starting to melt and warm Spring temperatures were a welcome respite from the long, cold winter days.

Dock_1Then She threw her hissy fit…

Dock_2And left us with this….

Dock_3Hubby had just replaced the entire deck 2 years ago but now he had to remove all his hard work.  As he was removing deck boards, the Spring rains came…and came…and came…

Dock_4We had to put barrels filled with water on the dock as a preventative measure against the deck lid pulling free and floating away with the rapidly rising waters.

When the water finally receded, it was time to remove the remaining deck boards and assess the damage and come up with a solution.

Dock_5With the one side being heaved up, it caused the other side to fall off the lower crib beams and dangle downwards.  After several attempts (unsuccessfully) to move (with a come-along device) the dock back into place.  It was on to Solution # 2.

Jack and shim up the side that fell off and then cut and re-angle the end cross piece so it fit the new span width, which is narrower now than what it was before.

Dock_6Starting to take shape.  At least we now have a point to rebuild from. Due to hubby’s work schedule, he was unable to do anything for pretty much July and August.  That left the waning Summer days in early September to get into the water (which at least was tepid warm and not hypothermia cold) to attach the new side beam.

Dock_7Once the side beam was installed, it was on to building the inside frames, reload the spaces with rock taken out in the Spring and lay the deck boards.

Dock_8 We thankfully were able to reuse the deck boards, but because the dock is slightly narrower than what it was before, they all had to be re-cut to the new width.

Dock_9The ducks were mighty happy to have their sunning and preening spot back.  They showed their gratitude by leaving behind little *presents* on the dock….of which hubby was clearly annoyed with.

Dock_10Last framework done and into the homestretch!

Dock_11Just a few more boards left…you can do it!

Dock_12Last piece of the puzzle being installed.

Dock_13All that was left was to re-install the hardware and…..

Dock_14Get the boat back in the water and tied up where it belongs.

The journey began April 20th and lasted until September 22nd.  Mother Nature, I surely hope you will be kind to us next Spring….I don’t know if hubby is up to another monumental rebuild.  There isn’t enough Ibuprofen left in our part of the country.

Many thanks to hubby who worked tirelessly getting the job done.  You are the best! xo

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Soup For The Soul

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As the sun lightens the sky this morning, it reveals a low fog that has settled over the lake during the night.  The tree tops of the offshore islands are just barely visible, with nothing to see below but fog.  It blends with the calm waters of the lake making for an eerie and ethereal landscape.  A Blue Jay screams good morning as he lands on the bird feeder, breaking the silence.  Good morning to you too I reply.

With the temperature hovering around 46F and my hands firmly wrapped around my mug of hot tea.  My thoughts wander to soup.  Soup is great for days like these that start off chilly, foggy and damp with dew so thick you can see the large water droplets clinging to the leaves and grass blades.

I am heading to the market this morning and the first thing I will be buying is a butternut squash.  Butternut squash soup is just the ticket to warm you to your toes on frosty, chilly Fall days.  Or how about sweet potatoes?  My Caribbean inspired Sweet Potato and Black Bean soup is sure to tantalize your tastebuds and transport you to the islands.

Caribbean Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

What are your favourite soups for Fall?  If you have a really good one to share, write it up below in the comment section as I am always looking for new soup ideas.  They freeze well and you can pull out individual servings for busy lunches on the go.  Bonus points for healthy, cream and fat free recipes!

Go ahead, pull out that soup pot and make your kitchen smell fantastic.

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Wooly Bear Caterpillar

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Known scientifically as ‘Pyrrharctia Isabella’, the Wooly Bear Caterpillar is the larvae of the Isabella Tiger Moth.  Abundant in Canada and found as far north as the Arctic, the Wooly Bear hatches in the Fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, literally freezing solid only to thaw out in the Spring, then pupating into its adult stage.

woolybear

I went for a walk yesterday and this fellow was in the middle of the road, aimlessly wandering in circles.  I moved him to the side of the road lest he become flattened by a passing car.

Common folklore has it that Wooly Bears are predictors of winter weather.  If the orange-brown stripe is wide, than it will be a mild winter, if it is narrow, then it will be a harsh winter.

Purely speculative though…just like Groundhog Day.  Mother Nature decides when, how long and how harsh winter will be, mainly due to her pms moods, in my opinion.

This is your entomology lesson for today…. only 178 more days until Spring!

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Signs Of Fall

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The Autumnal Equinox officially happened yesterday at 4:44 p.m.  Prior to Sunday though, it had already felt like Fall the past couple weeks.  The sun has been much lower in the sky with the days noticeably shorter, and cooler.

The cheery summer warblers, thrushes and sparrows have all vacated the north, departing at least 2 weeks ago for a warmer climate.  The last hummingbirds were seen at the feeder  a week ago Sunday.  The feeder has since been taken down and washed, replaced by a suet feeder for the chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers who live here year round. Fall Leaves and chair_1

The leaves are changing into their spectacular fall colours, and weird looking fungi are sprouting up everywhere.  The planter baskets and garden beds have been cleared out and put away for winter but I still need to get some garlic planted for next summer’s harvest.  I best get that done this week.

Mushroom

With Fall officially here, the furnace has been turned on, sweaters and thicker socks are being put into use and the homestead afghan is now in the final stages of completion.  The second panel is almost 6 feet long, which is a great bonus as I can continue knitting while draping its length over my legs and feet warding off any chills.

Homestead Afghan

It is also time to haul out the soup pot.  Time for hearty and flavourful soups and stews that will warm you to your toes and fill your belly with the best that autumn has to offer.  Butternut and Acorn squashes, pumpkin muffins and fresh apple pies made from homemade apple pie filling.  All will take center stage in the coming weeks.

apple pie filling

Summer has officially ended, so I guess I really have no choice but to embrace the next season that is now upon us, and guess what?  There are only 179 more days until the First Day of Spring!

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Next Week’s Menu

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The first full day of Fall is Sunday.  I am sad. Very sad.  After Sunday, you will find me buried under my duvet with my cherished pillow refusing to come out until next Spring.  It seemed like just a few weeks ago I was planting my tomato and pepper seedlings.  Now I am harvesting the last of the fruit and composting the remains.  I even put my canning pot away the other day, although I will probably haul it back out next week or so if the Green Monster offloads more tomatillos before a frost hits.

This weekend will hopefully see (weather permitting ~ fingers crossed) the dock put back together and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to pop the boat in water and go fishing.  We have not gone out once yet this year due to not having anything to tie the boat up to.  Well, that isn’t quite true, we could tie it to the support beams, but then we would be walking an OPP’s Drunk Line getting out to it.  Best not to break any hips falling into a rock crib.

This week’s menu still features ‘summer meals’, mainly because I am in denial of the impending change of ’season’.  To brighten my spirits, I bought a small basket of first of the season apples at the market this week and I think a nice apple crisp with vanilla ice cream will follow up Beef Sammie night.  Warm, ooey-gooey, cinnamony apples smothered with caramel sauce.  Yum…ok, just maybe, I can get into this Fall thing if good stuff like this keeps up.

Hope you all enjoy the weekend, get out and enjoy the sunshine and warmth wherever you are.  Snow’s a comin’ soon….speaking of which, I better get knitting something warmer.

Here is next week’s menu, feel free to pilfer ideas for yourself.

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Greeting Cards…

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In my quest to find the missing vehicle ownership the other day, I expanded my purge zone to my bedside night table.  I keep lots of stuff in there.  Stacks of photos in those paper jacket/envelopes from the good ‘ol days of print photography,  an MP3 player (apparently passé in technology), a pile of old pay stubs, new cheques, and greeting cards.

Lots of old greeting cards.

CardsMostly Anniversary and Valentine cards.  From me to hubby and hubby to me.

I don’t know why I have kept them.

So this prompted a question to be thrown out to the masses.  Are you one of those people that keep every greeting card that was ever given to you over the years?  Birthday cards, Anniversary cards, Christmas cards, Valentine cards?  If you do keep them…why do you keep them?

Today I actually tossed mine.  Purge mode has now taken a firm hold.

and yes, I am still looking for the damn vehicle ownership….

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Toss? Or Keep?

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The change of seasons spurs me into purge mode.  Each new season (or at the very least, twice a year) I pull all the clothes out of my dresser drawers and closet and fling them onto the bed.  I inspect them.  I try them on, I yank them off in disgust wondering how I could have purchased such an item, then toss it onto the floor.  Though I go through this ritual with most of my clothes, I have never actually gone through my ‘unmentionables’ drawers.  Typically stuffing any new items in while pushing the old to the back.

Purging these 2 dresser drawers was long overdue.  What started the whole process was a quest to hunt down a piece of paper….a very important piece of paper.  The ownership to hubbies car, which has mysteriously gone missing.  That was the inspiration point for this whole post, and the resulting garbage bag(s) stuffed to the brim of unwanted items.

So today (well yesterday actually, as I was writing this post then to be posted today), I decided to delve into the recesses of said dressers and closet to uncover countless forgotten or banished items, then decide what is worth keeping (if it fits) or toss (if it is moth-eaten) or to donate.

Along the way, I found many things that no longer fit.  Like bras…aka double-barreled slingshots.  Supreme holder of ‘The Girls’.  I had loads of them.  Some as old as my 20 something son.  Did you know that women’s boobs change in shape and size a gazillion times over their lifetime?  I think Mother Nature is in cahoots with bra manufacturers, getting us to have to buy new ones twice a year.

BrasAs I was searching for said piece of paper, I also uncovered ancient..and I do mean ancient…slips.  5 in all, of varying lengths.  Do women even wear slips these days??  I know I haven’t worn one in almost 30 years (yes 30, I am more ancient than the slips).   All were relegated to the donate pile.  Perhaps some teens would want them for a new fashion forward trend yet to be invented, like wearing slips outside of leggings….hmmm.. I see a budding fashion designer career in my future.

So, out with the old, worn or doesn’t fit and keep only what does.  Then take stock of what you have left and add/replace only what you need.  Thus keeping your drawers in a neat and tidy state of harmony.

Did I find the coveted piece of paper?  Nope.  Still looking….

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Having a Stocked Pantry is….

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like having your very own grocery store in your home.  Minus the outrageous prices and hard to pronounce ingredients that belong in scientific experiments.

I am winding down on canning season, my big ‘ol canning pot will soon be put away for another year.  It is time to enjoy a well stocked pantry and take pride in knowing the food we will be eating is actually that – food.  Not genetically modified, disease resistant and/or hormone filled products that the government deems safe.  What is safe about ingredients that have more than 12 letters in its name?

Me, I prefer produce grown locally which is then turned into ‘real food’.  No chemicals, no preservatives, just good, old-fashioned, hand made pantry staples.

Here is a peek at my pantry, located in the crawlspace (sorry for the dingy lighting, no amount of editing made it look any better) and just about filled to the brim.  The only thing left to do is to make more spiced blueberry jam (later in winter, the precious berries are all frozen at the moment) and tomatillo salsa, the tomatillo plant aka Green Monster, still has a thousand fruits left to ripen on it.

pantry goodsI have 54 jars of my spicy pasta sauce, 50 was my goal as we used all of last years up by June.  All my jams are done; chipotle peach, peach jalapeño jelly, mint jelly, strawberry lemon marmalade, spiced blueberry jam and tomato basil jam, along with dill pickles, green tomato relish, pickled serrano peppers, tomatillo salsa, pickled beets and canned tomatoes.  I still have regular salsa left from last year as well as a few jars of peach salsa, but I need to make some more mango nectarine salsa as that stuff is awesome on chicken and pork or try it with home-made cinnamon tortilla chips.

I hope I have inspired some of you to venture into canning/processing your own grown (or locally obtained) produce.  Trust me, it is better for you and your family plus it ensures you are supporting your local farm community vs items shipped from over 3,000 miles away.

Now that Fall is all but officially here, it is time to wrap up in something warm and comfy and maybe head to a nearby apple orchard…after all….it is apple season!

imagesCAY8RVLMApple Pie anyone?

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