Duvet Cover Wrestling

Pin It

I am sure I am not the only one that hates wrestling a duvet into its over-sized pillow case periodically.  Been doing it for years and always procrastinate about washing the cover just to avoid the impending wrestling match.

As I was mentally getting psyched up for the task I had a brain wave, a storm surge, an epiphany….whatever you call it, this GREAT idea popped into my head.

CLOTHESPINS!

clothespin_01

Why don’t I insert the duvet up to the top corners of the cover and using clothespins, pin them together to hold, then travel along the length of the top pinning as I go.

DSC06113

DSC06114

THEN, you can grasp the top and wildly flap the whole dang thing around the room to shake the cover down over the duvet without it sliding back out. In the time it takes to say “Bob’s Your Uncle!”, the duvet is smoothly nestled into its cover with nary a sweat broken or curse word spoken.

Brilliant I am.

Hopefully nobody has thought of this idea before, ’cause if I find out it was already out there and nobody told me, I am going to be pretty upset.

Deborah

 

Follow Me on Pinterest

First Garden Produce Of 2017

Pin It
Radishes are always fast producers as they prefer the early, cooler Spring days to germinate and grow.  I pulled these beauties out this morning and after a dip in a bucket of water to get the dirt off, I squirreled them off to the kitchen for further washing and get them tucked into the fridge.
DSC06108
If left too long in the ground and once Mother Nature heats up, radishes will bolt (go into flowering mode) and the root will then get woody.  So best to harvest these ruby gems as soon as you see a large portion of the root sticking up above the soil.
DSC06098
The remainder will be harvested over the next week which will then give the Tiny Tim tomatoes some room as you can hardly see them nestled between the rows of radishes.
DSC06101
Meanwhile, the peppers that I planted last week are diggin’ their new digs so much that flowers are opening and I even have one teeny-tiny pepper starting!
DSC06111
I finally learned the secret for planting happy peppers.  Start them a month earlier than I normally do.  Usually mid-March is seed planting time, but to give the slower growing peppers more time to mature before going in the ground, I started them mid-February.  Definitely my strategy is paying off this year.
DSC06109
Looking forward to a fabulous harvest this year for not only radishes, peppers and tomatoes, but chard, beets, carrots, garlic and green onions too.  If I can scrounge up a little space after I harvest the garlic in early July I may just plant some more kale too.  You have to be careful with kale though, it grows rapidly and soon you are leaving baskets of kale on the neighbour’s porch whether they like it or not.
Like zucchini ….. a little goes a long way in the kale world.
Happy Gardening!
Deborah
Follow Me on Pinterest

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Kale

Pin It

DSC06088I think last night was one of the best creative nights in the kitchen that I have had in a very long while.  I turned out a fabulous vegetarian dish packed full of vitamins and protein that can be used as a stand alone meal or be a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon.  Sometimes I amaze myself with my ingenuity.  Believe me though, I have had major flops too, so I take this win as a small victory.

Looking in the fridge I knew I had a container of leftover roasted squash, not enough for soup, but enough to be added to….something.  So the chef hat went on as I gathered ingredients out of the fridge.  Mushrooms…yup, have to use those.  Kale, absolutely (I was bitten by the kale bug last week again, I always forget how much I like it). Then what to add as “filler” I pondered.  As I was staring into the pantry, there sat a jar of black quinoa – perfect!  A few other odds and sods pulled out of the pantry and fridge and a game plan was forming.

As I prepped the kale and chopped some onions, I wondered if quinoa could be cooked like a risotto? Short answer, no, but dinner did take a long time to cook as I discovered that fact (I will explain later), but since I was starving, it was time to get cooking!

Ingredients

1/2 dry black quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked squash (roasted and mashed)
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp good red wine (don’t buy “cooking wine”, use the good stuff!)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a saucepan over med-high heat; add onions and cook until just starting to turn transluscent (about 3 minutes), add mushrooms, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are tender (3-5 minutes).

Add quinoa and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to med-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked (about 15 – 20 minutes), remove lid and raise heat back to a boil.  Boil off any remaining liquid.

Turn heat to low again and add the squash, mix until combined.  Taste seasonings at this point and adjust to your liking.  Add kale, stirring to mix in, then cover and let the kale steam for 2-3 minutes until bright green.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings as a meal alone or 4 servings as a side dish.

What I found with trying to cook quinoa as a risotto (seriously, don’t waste your time trying) is that the quinoa needs to sit in the liquid and cook at a lower heat or it won’t plump up.  After 30 minutes of adding liquid and stirring it was still rock hard.  Once I added more broth, lowered the heat and covered the pot, the quinoa cooked.  Lesson learned!

Meanwhile, I am having the remainder of this dish for lunch today, simply outstanding!

Deborah

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories: 184
Calories from Fat 45.0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 0.49g
2%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 99.65mg
4%
Total Carbohydrate 26.38g
13%
Dietary Fiber 8.46g
33%
Sugars 3.39g
 
Protein 5.31g
3%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat
9%
Carbs
57%
Protein
11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories need.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Cheddar Chive Cornbread

Pin It

Today I was waffling.  Waffling about whether to make cheddar chive biscuits, or cheddar chive muffins.

So I made cheddar chive cornbread instead.  I know, sometimes what I think I want, I don’t want at all.  The mind of a woman was clearly at work here.

Since I had just given my rapidly sprouting chive plant a trim last weekend, it was a good time to rummage through my recipe files for an appropriate dish to use some of them up.

No big fanfare here, just a simple, delicious cornbread to enjoy with a Tex-Mex dinner menu (or anytime!).

DSC06019Cheddar Chive Cornbread

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp minced fresh chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

1. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, butter and buttermilk.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.

4. Gently fold in cheese and chives.

5. Spread mixture in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 18 pieces that are 1″ x 2″

Enjoy!

Deborah

Save

Follow Me on Pinterest

Spring has Sprung!

Pin It

Thank goodness the cold and snow is now behind us and we can look forward to (in my opinion) the shortest and BEST season we have ~ SUMMER!

I have been so busy this past 6-8 weeks, not just with work (my busiest time of year) but also ramping up my gardening chores.  The raised  beds have had their plastic rolled down to thaw the frozen earth and 2 weeks ago I was lucky enough to get some radishes, chard, beets and lettuce seeds sown.  These are cool weather veggies and have a much better appreciation of early Spring cold spells than the summer loving tomatoes and peppers.

Speaking of peppers, I am gobsmacked with how well they are growing now that we downsized our southern home to a condo.  It is so blasted hot in here that it is the perfect nursery for my plant babies.  Have a look see for yourself! DSC06002Some of the pepper varieties are now over a foot tall!  I started them a month earlier than normal too, mainly because I have the plastic on the raised beds, I can extend the growing season on both ends. DSC06008The tomatoes were started mid-March, and will quickly catch up and surpass the peppers, they grow like weeds once the seeds sprout.  I do give them a very weak fertilizer solution every 2 weeks though to get them in optimum green leafiness before planting.  I have also been saving up eggshells for the tomatoes.  Whenever I use eggs, I wash the shells and keep them in a baggie in the freezer, more on that in the next post though.

Aside from gardening, I have been up to my eyeballs in Alpaca fleece.  I lucked out on getting about 15 lbs of raw alpaca fiber from a nearby ranch (aren’t they the most adorable looking creatures below?)DSC05863 DSC05860 In the process, I scored my first “baby” alpaca fleece.  Just to be clear, they don’t shear the babies after they are born, “Baby Alpaca” fleece is considered the animals first shearing, which is usually when they are a year old.  It is much finer than adult fleece, so very soft and silky, and I managed to get a jet black one that spun up like silk in my test sample, which is so lusciously smooshy and soft (I have a special project in mind for this very special fibre) and is much darker than the photo shows.  It is very hard to photograph black!

DSC06000Along with the bags of alpaca fleece, I have also been weaving, finishing up a couple projects that were started at the beginning of the year.  My piñata fabric is done, and I have one of two straps left to weave on the little inkle loom, then I can start my big sewing project (saving that for another post too…most likely in the summer). DSC05829 I also gave my rear end some reprieve with a woven cushion for my loom bench.  Sitting on a board was getting old real quick! DSC05840 Not to leave any other fibre related items out, I have been knitting up a storm in the evenings (my down time while watching Jeopardy) as I had a request from my Aunt for a cowl and some more socks.  Cowl and one pair of socks done, 2 more pairs to go.

So when do I have time for myself you say? Well, when the gardens are mostly looking after themselves in a month or so, and work has slowed for the summer, I will be on the deck looking at the pristine view of the lake listening to the loons and sipping my tea and either spinning or knitting for the next project.  I can never sit still.  A rolling stone gathers no moss so the saying goes…and that is me to a tee ;)

DSC04767Deborah

Save

Save

Follow Me on Pinterest

Chipotle Fish Tacos ala Deb!

Pin It

Yay!  I am finally getting my world-famous Fish Taco recipe on the interweb-thingie! You know, that thing that a certain Billionaire said wouldn’t catch on?  I wonder what he thinks about that statement now?

Anyway, back to fish tacos….yum..yum..yum! Ramona ~ This is for you, so go ahead and share away!

This recipe is great when you need to whip up a dinner fairly fast, the only part that needs time to percolate (love that old fashioned term) is the salsa, it’s basically being pickled to develop the favours.  It is also fairly waist friendly when the chipotle sauce * is used in moderation,  for an even lighter option, check out the * tip at the bottom of the page.

DSC05617

Chipotle Fish Tacos ala Deb!

Ingredients

1 Haddock fish filet per person (or any firm, white fish), sliced into 1″ chunks
2 Cups shredded iceburg lettuce
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced red or green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced radishes or jicama
1 Tbsp finely diced jalapeño
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (recipe below to make your own)
Juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)
1/4 tsp (or more to taste) of Chiptole Chile powder
3 Large whole wheat flour tortillas
Fresh cilantro leaves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1. At least 4 hours before serving, prepare the salsa by combining the radish (or jicama)   , peppers, onions and the juice of 1 lime.  Stir to combine, cover and keep refrigerated until time to assemble.

DSC05612

DSC05613

2. Thinly slice the lettuce into a bowl, cover and chill until needed.

3. Prepare the Chipotle Mayo by combining the mayonnaise, chipotle chile powder and 1/2 tsp of the fresh lime juice.  Stir to combine then refrigerate until needed.

DSC05615

4. In a frying pan set over med-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of Olive oil and sprinkle half the cajun seasoning all over the bottom of the pan.  Add fish and liberally sprinkle the remaining seasoning on the top side of the fish.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until fish starts to brown on the bottom, flip fish and cook until the bottoms start to brown.  Add remaining lime juice to pan and cook for another 2 minutes or so until the juice cooks off and the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Remove from heat.

To assemble Tacos

1. Warm tortillas by zapping in the microwave for 15 seconds.
2. Spread a tsp of chipotle mayo in the middle of each tortilla.
3. Divide shredded lettuce evenly among the 3 tortillas
4. Divide the salsa evenly among the 3 tortillas.
5. Divide the fish pieces evenly among the 3 tortillas.
6. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

We roll our tacos up burrito style, but these would also be good in hard corn tortilla shells but way messier!

Note ~ This makes 3 tacos ~ 1 for me and 2 for hubs,
so increase amounts for feeding more people.

* To lighten up the chipotle mayo, sub fat-free yogurt for the mayo.

Make your own Cajun Seasoning

In a mortar and pestle, combine the following ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

1 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried Oregano

We have ours with a large side salad, but these would also be great with a side of Mexican rice. Enjoy!

Deborah

Save

Save

Follow Me on Pinterest

Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir Fry In A Wrap

Pin It

I know, I know, I have been remiss of late, life gets in the way you know?  I have many ideas and unfortunately not enough hours in the day.  BUT, today I managed to pull this together in less than 15 minutes, combined with the time it took to make lunch AND type this out, it gives me hope I can throw together some more gems to this blog in the future.

So here it is!

I love wraps.  The food kind that is, although I do like the knitted kind as well, but you can’t eat those.  I love to rummage in the fridge and see what’s in there to insert into the ever-present whole wheat wraps that are a staple in our house.

Usually its lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, avocado, etc that get layered and rolled up to be scarfed down at lunch, but today I had some Asian inspiration with the leftover bok choy from the weekend.

I thinly sliced the bok choy (about a cup), and thinly sliced the remaining half of a yellow bell pepper, one crimini mushroom and a couple tablespoons thinly sliced red onion.  I added everything to a hot pan over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of Olive Oil (along with fresh ground pepper and salt) and sauteed until veg’s were tender.  Oh, and I added a sprinkling of ground garlic as I thought a whole clove would have over-powered the dish seeing as the amounts were made for one wrap.  If making enough for 4 people, then I would definitely add a clove or two of garlic.

After the veg has cooked until tender (about 5 minutes, you may have to add a couple tablespoons of water if it starts to dry the pan out), add a couple shakes of red pepper flakes and about 3 tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce.  Stir together and remove from heat.

20170223_122336

Zap the wrap in the microwave on high for 10 seconds, place the sauteed veggies in the middle of the wrap, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and top with chopped green onion.

20170223_122459

Roll up and eat!  This totally hit the spot and was quick, easy and done in slightly less than 15 minutes.  This is also one of those recipes that can be totally customized, like tossing in leftover grilled chicken or pork…and BAM! a new menu item created to feed the masses.

Buen Provecho! (Oh wait, that’s Spanish…. I wonder how it is said in Mandarin?…. I must go google…)

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Follow Me on Pinterest

Bodacious Banana Bread ~ Take II

Pin It

I am taking the time to update my Banana Bread recipe from its current form to a low-sugar form.  Hubby and I have embarked on our get healthy, get fit movement for a year now and collectively, we have lost about 65lbs! WooHoo for us!  There is still some weight loss to go, but in order to achieve (and maintain) a healthy weight, you need to change your eating habits and since we both love our banana bread, I wanted to be able to continue eating/enjoying this yummy stuff so the sugar and a lot of the AP flour had to go.  Here is an updated version, but I will leave the original version below the updated one for anyone wanting to enjoy it.

**Mainstream Bodacious Banana Bread**

Ingredients

3-4 Medium bananas (over-ripe), mashed
2 large Eggs, room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/3 cup Unsalted butter
1/4 tsp Baking soda
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup All Purpose flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat flour
3 Tbsp Ground Flax meal
1/2 cup Chopped walnuts

Directions ~ Whip butter, eggs and vanilla and then follow the remaining directions below in the original recipe, making sure you omit the sugar*

* You really don’t need the sugar in the banana bread as over-ripe bananas are really sweet unto themselves (and trust me, you won’t even miss it!).

The Banana

banana

You can mash it.
You can slice it.
You can slather it in peanut butter.
You can make a banana split sundae out of it.
Or you can peel it and just eat it plain….

But one of the most amazing things to come from the humble banana is Banana Bread.

Walking into a home to the aroma of banana bread baking is just about as good as it can get…aside from regular bread baking or cookies.

These are known as comfort smells.

Which is way better than stinky sneakers…

Banana Bread is one of those things that can be whipped up quickly, hence the name ‘Quick Bread’ as there is no need for yeast and therefore does not need to be coddled like regular bread.  Start to finish, it takes about an hour and 20 minutes to make, including baking time.

To make your own loaf of this yummy, banana goodness, just follow the recipe below and soon you will be slathering butter on a hot from the oven slice of this marvelous, Bodacious Banana Bread.

So gather up the ingredients and let’s get started.

DSC09025

Ingredients

3-4 over-ripe bananas, about 1 cup mashed
1/3 cup un-salted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a large bowl (or stand-mixer), whip butter and sugar together, add eggs and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy…

DSC09042

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; mix well.

In another bowl, mash bananas to desired consistency.  If you like chunks of banana in your banana bread, leave larger pieces, or puree if you don’t like chunks.

DSC09054

Add the mashed bananas to the batter and beat until well incorporated.

DSC09058

Add the flour mixture and mix well.

DSC09059

Finally, fold in the chopped walnuts…

DSC09061

 Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spoon  batter into a greased 5″ x 7″ loaf pan.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.  Some ovens are hotter than others, so check every 5 minutes after the 50 minute mark.

Bodacious Banana Bread

Remove from oven and let cool for about 45 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pan, slice and serve to the masses.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Follow Me on Pinterest

Washing Up In Style ~ Take II

Pin It

This is a blog update for my original post back in January of 2013 to which I have modified the pattern slightly to give a symmetrical border to the washcloths as well as to account for the weight (thickness of yarn) difference from Bernat’s Handi-Crafter cotton to KnitPick’s Dishie.  With KP Dishie being slightly thinner, I have added extra stitches and pattern rows to get the same size washcloth as when knitted with Bernat’s yarn.

I have actually become a cotton yarn snob, KnitPick’s Dishie has won me over and aside from the Christmas speckled washcloths I am making for gifts this year, moving forward I will be treating myself to working exclusively with Dishie yarn.  It is actually cheaper and has more yardage per ball than Bernat’s.  PLUS, it is a tighter spun fibre, smoother and knits without splitting. (Gee, I should maybe get some free yarn out of this plug?) ;)

DSC05174

A quick, easy to memorize pattern transforms cotton yarn into brightly coloured squares worthy of anyone’s cocina.

Materials Needed:

Bernat Handicrafter Cotton – 42.5 g / 1.5 oz. (1 Ball per square, if using different colours, allow a half ball per square)

OR

KnitPick’s Dishie – 80 g / 2 oz. (1 Ball will make 2 washcloths and you will still have some leftover!)
4.5 mm (U.S. # 7) Straight knitting needles

Gauge: It isn’t important with this project.

Directions if using Bernat’s Handi-Crafter Cotton:

Cast on 38 Stitches using the Thumb Method (sometimes called ‘e-loop’ method) or the Long-Tail Method, either of these give a nice, stretchy cast on edge.  Perfect for beginners, it is very easy to do and you only need one needle to do it.

Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch – see note below before starting)

*Note; if using the Long tail cast on method, once you cast on, Knit 5 rows (garter stitch), THEN proceed to pattern below

Slipped Stitch Waffle Pattern:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *P2, S1 (slip next stitch knit-ways, keeping the yarn at back of work, but do not knit the stitch, just pass it to the right needle), after slipping the stitch, bring yarn to the front for the purl stitches, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, *K2, P1, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

These four rows make one pattern set.  Work 14 pattern sets for each dishcloth.

Ending Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)

Bind off stitches loosely and weave in ends.

Directions for KnitPick’s Dishie Yarn:

Cast on 41 Stitches using the Thumb Method (sometimes called ‘e-loop’ method) or the Long-Tail Method, either of these give a nice, stretchy cast on edge.  Perfect for beginners, it is very easy to do and you only need one needle to do it.

Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch – see note below before starting)

*Note; if using the Long tail cast on method, once you cast on, Knit 5 rows (garter stitch), THEN proceed to pattern below.

Slipped Stitch Waffle Pattern:

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K3, purl to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 3: K3, *P2, S1 (slip next stitch knit-ways, keeping the yarn at back of work, but do not knit the stitch, just pass it to the right needle), after slipping the stitch, bring yarn to the front for the purl stitches, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3
Row 4: K3, *K2, P1, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, K3

These four rows make one pattern set.  Work 15 pattern sets for each dishcloth.

Ending Border: Knit 6 rows (garter stitch)

Bind off stitches loosely and weave in ends.

Be creative in your colour choices, as here is an opportunity to make a bold colour statement in your kitchen without using paint.  Bright pops of colour are mandatory in my kitchen.  On  the plus side, if you have bits and bobs of leftover cotton yarn, use them up for additional washcloths that can be delegated to laundry room duty.  Heck, use them in the kitchen or bathroom, no matter the colours as long as they work, and work hard they will.

DSC08921

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Follow Me on Pinterest

Not So Rainy Day Blues

Pin It

As the skies opened to overdue and highly welcomed rains on Friday morning (we have been in a drought of late) and the rain forecast for well into Saturday, the outdoor gardening tasks were wiped off the whiteboard for the weekend to be replaced by indoor ones.

Hubs had a passle of work planned for us in the crawlspace, but the deluge of rain meant the inevitable rise in water down under and within a couple hours, there was an inch of standing water in the front portion of the crawlspace.  He still managed quite a bit of work down there, but it wasn’t the weekend results he wanted.

For me, I could only help so much, so with a  lot of free time with no garden chores to do in the pouring rain, I settled into a quiet rythym with my Spin-Well spinning wheel finishing up a gradient yarn project that turned out exactly as envisioned.

My lovely daughter had given me 3 coloured rovings from KnitPicks for Christmas and after mulling over what to do with them, a plan emerged to spin half of each colour with itself and the other half with the next colour in line, blending one shade into the next creating a visually appealing colour run from light to dark.

Studio_20160711_095028_medium2Here they are sectioned out, ready to go with the first colour already spun.  Studio_20160815_100536And these are the final skeins of yarn, looking even better spun and plied than their bare state counterparts.

I have been cruising various knitting websites looking for the perfect pattern, hopefully one jumps out at me soon, meanwhile, I think I will leave these on display, like a bouquet of flowers, and at least yarn doesn’t wilt after a few days.

Happy knitting!

Deborah

 

Follow Me on Pinterest