Of Ducks and Salmon….

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Diary of Homestead Vacation continued….(see prior post here)

Salmon…. the Ocean’s gift to a healthy heart, diet and lifestyle.

I love salmon.  I could eat it every day of the week.  I broil it, BBQ it, bake it, steam it and have been known to skewer it.  There isn’t a more versatile fish than the humble salmon.  You can Cajun it.  Blacken it.  Smoke it. Salt Cure it.  Can it. Make a salad out of it….or eat it Tartare fashion.

This fish of Omega-3 fatty acid fame has a long standing history with humans.  Native peoples on both sides of the Pacific Ocean have been harvesting the tasty fish since the dawn of time.

But did you know that Atlantic Salmon return repeatedly every year to their place of birth to spawn?  Whereas the Pacific variety make the journey only once, thus expiring after Nature’s call to reproduce?  I vaguely remember this from science/biology classes way back when but had forgotten about it until researching this article.  The Atlantic Salmon have a definite leg up on their west coast brethren.

Which brings me to writing today’s post as I sat and watched the ducks rummaging through the blueberry bushes the other day.  What do salmon and ducks have in common you ask?   Absolutely nothing, one is a fish and the other are birds… sheesh, what did you expect?  But what happens to me quite often (which is thinking while doing something totally unrelated), as I was watching the ducks eat their dinner, I started thinking about dinner, which turned into me thinking about salmon for dinner and then coming up with what I could do different with salmon for dinner…follow me?

So I came up with a delectable Salmon Dinner relying heavily on Mexican flavours (does that surprise you?) and has absolutely no duck confit included anywhere.

Salmon a la Parrilla con Aguacate y Arroz con Cilantro
(Broiled Salmon with Avocado and Cilantro Rice)

Mexican Salmon DinnerIn less than an hour, this scrumptious dish was on the table.  The rice actually taking the longest to cook, while the garnishes and broiling of the salmon being accomplished in less that 15 minutes.


2 boneless, skinless salmon portions
2 cups cooked rice ( I used brown and wild rice mix, see details below)
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced *
1 roma tomato, finely diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup cilantro, chopped (divided in half)
Additional chopped cilantro for garnish
Salmon Rub (see ingredient list below)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & Pepper to taste

Salmon Rub
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Coat all sides of salmon pieces with Olive Oil, then mix together all the spices in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the salmon pieces (all sides); let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to marinate.

To Make Pico de Gallo

Combine diced tomato, onion, jalapeño, 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 tsp lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl; mix well and let sit for 30 minutes at room temp.

To make Cilantro Rice

Cook favourite rice according to package directions, remove from heat when cooked.  Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, then cover and keep warm until needed.

To Broil Salmon

Place spiced and marinated salmon pieces on a non-stick broil pan and broil on top shelf of oven 5 minutes per side (if salmon pieces are thicker than one inch, cook until fish flakes easily with a fork).

To Plate

Place one piece of broiled salmon per plate, serve with a 1 cup cilantro rice and garnish with pico de gallo, sliced avocado and the additional cilantro if desired.  Serve with additional lime slices for spritzing the avocado.

*Wait until plating before peeling, pitting and slicing the avocado to avoid it turning brown.

Serves 2

Buen Provecho!

P.S….this post ends the Diary of a Homestead Vacation Novella,
I hope you have enjoyed it!

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Chapter 6 of the Homestead Vacation

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Diary of a Homestead Vacation Continued…(see prior post here)

I need to preface this Chapter for my good friend Tina ~ please do not read this, it will only make you want to run for your duck recipe book…and your gun 

As I sat out on the deck in the afternoon tap-tap-tapping away on my computer, with clear skies and hopefully no return of the hot, hazy and humid weather that we have had recently, it was turning out to be a beauty of a day.  Mama Mallard and BabiesThe lake was calm and quiet, with hardly a whisper of a breeze.  About a dozen ducks were busy on shore scrounging for every last kernel of corn I had put out for them that morning.

Suddenly, a loud and sharp quack broke the serene setting.  As I gazed towards the water, I witnessed a female Mallard leaping out of the water in a sudden and total panic, leaving her 6 fuzzy babies alone in the water.

She continued to quack frantically and flew around her peeps from one side of them to the other, splashing down and then taking off again.  Her babies just huddled together in the water, trying to stay still, heeding mama’s urgent warning.  The ducks on shore shot their heads up at the alarm call with some bolting for the water immediately while others just stood there, necks stretched out trying to see what the danger was.

I scanned the water and didn’t see anything.  Sometimes we get large bass or pike cruising the shallows of our inlet that have made them jump before, but this was different, the alarm call was unmistakable.  As I looked towards the dock, I spotted the culprit.

A dark brown, furry mink was running up and over the rocks of the dock crib and Mrs. Mallard had spotted him and sounded the alarm.  Mink look like ferrets (they are  from the weasel family), and are about the same size as a ferret too.  They eat just about anything they can sink their teeth into and certainly wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to snatch a fuzzy little yellow and brown duckling from an inattentive mama mallard.

With the ducks on high alert, the other mama ducks corralled their young peeps and headed out into the lake away from the danger.  4 adults stayed behind to finish pecking around for any stray kernels, but they didn’t keep their heads down for very long as they were keeping an eye out for the mink.  A mink certainly wouldn’t attack a full grown, healthy duck, but would prefer to go after a sick or injured one for an easy meal.  Luckily all the ducks at the Homestead seemed healthy.

The mink hung around for about a half hour, running back and forth along the rocks at the waters edge from our dock to the neighbours.   Curious as to what it was doing, I grabbed my camera and snuck down to try and snap a pic.  We hadn’t seen any mink this year yet and as I walked to the waters edge, one of the guests at the camp next door was paddling by in a paddle boat and had witnessed the whole kerfuffle.  I asked her if she saw the mink, she said yes, and that yesterday there were 3 of them running around the camp docks.  3? The duckies won’t be happy having a trio of peep marauders around that’s for sure….

As I approached the dock, I spotted the mink running along the side of the crib towards the far end, then it disappeared around the end beam.   I quickly scampered to the end of planked area of the dock and waited with the camera zoomed in.  Sure enough, he turned to head back and was about halfway along when he realized I was standing there.  He stopped in his tracks and stood high up on his legs on the rocks, staring at me.  I quickly snapped a pic before he dove over the side beam of the dock and vanished into the water.

MinkI walked back up towards the deck and the few ducks remaining onshore quacked as I went by, “yeah yeah” I said… “he’s gone, so shush already!”  Half an hour later the ducks were snoozing on the lawn, the ruckus that had happened not an hour before long forgotten.

Snoozing DucksI went inside and grabbed a glass of water and then settled back into my deck chair to resume typing.  2 minutes had not gone by when I heard loud rustling noises coming from the blueberry patch at the side of our property.  Jeez, the chipmunks were chasing each other again, they just can’t seem to get along I muttered.  As I looked towards the blueberry patch, a head popped up for a quick look around.  It wasn’t chipmunks, but ducks.

Mama and Tween DucksA mama and her brood of “tweens” were waddling through the blueberry bushes picking every ripe berry they could find.  They must have gone in there while I was inside as I didn’t see them come up from the water.  They rummaged around for another few minutes, and then headed back towards the lake for a drink, their crops full of blueberries and corn kernels.

These guys are certainly well fed I mused…  Speaking of being fed, it was time to start thinking about dinner….

To be continued….

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Chapter 5 of the Homestead Vacation

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Diary of a Homestead Vacation Continued (see previous post here)

Some chores are a necessity at the Homestead, like going to get water.  We have a line up from the lake to the cottage, which goes through filters and is ok for washing/showering, etc., but we have never had the water tested to see if it was suitable for drinking as we have always gotten our drinking water from a local spring.

About a 15 minute drive away, located on a narrow, dusty dirt road in the middle of nowhere is a waterline coming out of the bush at the side of the road in the ditch.  It runs about a mile back through the thickly wooded area and the water runs 24/7/365 days a year.  This spring has been running for as long as I can remember.   Who owns it? We have no clue.  Who put it there? Again, we have no clue.  But all the residents in the area know of it and have been using it for eons.  There are even folks from the City of North Bay that drive 30+ minutes from town just to get the pure, clean tasting spring water (and it’s FREE too!)

So first thing in the morning I take our empty 5 gallon water jugs and put them in the trunk.  I also grab my floppy hat, bug zapper and my hooded jacket….why the bug zapper you ask? Really, you don’t know by now that when I mention the words bug zapper it can only mean one thing? DEER FLIES.  Deer-FlyThese pesky critters are really bad in the month of July, I can’t wait until August when they start disappearing.

As I head down the two lane highway, I pass a freshly cut field of hay, which smells divine.  I love the smell of freshly cut hay, but with the freshly cut field comes a danger.  Best keep your eyes peeled to the sides of the road for deer.  The area is rampant with them and sure enough, not a mile farther down the road, a young pair bolt from the bush at the side of the road and make a dash for the other side, white tails flying like flags.  Thankfully I am back far enough that I needn’t hammer on the brakes.  I had already schmucked a groundhog a couple weeks ago and didn’t need a John Deere emblem on my front hood as well.

I get to the watering hole and there wasn’t a soul around, yipee!  Never go on a weekend as that is the busiest time, hubby says, and you will be standing there waiting in line forever.  Usually getting water is his chore but with him working 7/12’s for the annual shutdown, it has become a new adventure for me.  I turn the car around on the narrow dirt road to aim back in the direction I came and before I even put the car in park, the deer flies are swarming the side mirrors.  Crap, I muttered, I really hate these things.

I flip the hood of my jacket on my head and then stuff my floppy beach hat over top – I look in the rear view mirror at myself…damn, I look so fetching, I think I have started a new fashion fad.  I pop the trunk open, grab the zapper and step out of the car and immediately start swinging my best forearm and backswings (tennis style), with 3 of the dreaded things going down for the final count inside of 10 seconds. HA! Take that you bloodthirsty suckers!  If anyone was watching, I am sure they thought I was loco.

I grab the 4 jugs out of the trunk and head over to the hose and start filling each one, all the while swinging my arm efficiently to ward off the buggers.  By the time I fill all the jugs, I have killed at least 20 of them and perfected my tennis swing to boot.  I am now ready to do battle against Serena Williams at the next Grand Slam event.  I can take her.

I hoist the full jugs into the trunk and then dive into the driver’s seat, slamming the door behind me before one of the flying vampires follows me in.  Whew…thank goodness that is over with.  It is much nicer getting water at any other time of year than summer, no insects to deal with.

I head home, take the jugs out of the trunk and put them in their place in the garage.  As I exit the garage, I am greeted to a noisy ruckus from the water’s edge…the ducks were demanding their breakfast….

To be continued….

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Chapter 4 of the Homestead Vacation

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Diary of a Homestead Vacation Continued….(see prior post here)

Gardening is an almost daily chore, but I don’t really think of it as a chore.  If it was a ‘chore’ like house cleaning, I certainly wouldn’t enjoy it, nor would I have any gardens.  I rather think of it as ‘coddling’, like you are doting on a grandchild.  Spoiling them with rich foods and letting them stay up late and generally running amok before you ship them back home high on sugar.  Bonus is after all the coddling, I get some pretty tasty produce to eat, can and preserve as well as pretty flowers to look at.

I have my vegetable gardens that are doing quite well and I also have a large garden bed devoted just to flowers.  Originally I had wanted it for a vegetable garden, until hubby mentioned..”um, isn’t that a little close to the leach bed of the septic?”… Good point, I thought, glad I keep him around or we could potentially be eating contaminated veggies.

With that obvious revelation, it became a flower bed, and last Spring (2012) as well as the one that just went by, I dug up Tiger Lilies from our garden down south to transplant up here.  Tiger LilyThey are ridiculously expensive to buy one lily plant and I have masses of them at home to pilfer from, thus saving mucho dinero.  Even after culling about 20 plants, you wouldn’t know I had taken any by looking at the home garden today.  Tiger lilies are very prolific and so easy to care for, just plant, water occasionally and let ‘em go wild.

Here they are in 2012 after I first planted them…

2012 Tiger Liliesand this is what they look like now…they have grown exponentially and are filling the space in nicely.

2013 Tiger LiliesWith the bulk of the space being devoted to lilies, I wanted things around the outer edges to pop up at different times.  So last fall I planted Daffodil and mini Iris bulbs at each end. Daffodils The Daffies came up first in April, followed by the Irises in May.  It provides some colour other than green when things are just starting to grow and having the blooms staggered offers each one centre stage during its particular blooming period.

Once the end of May came (and the last frost date passed for our zone), I planted Nasturtium seeds in the front and Sweet Pea and Rose Mallow along the walkway wall behind the lilies.  The Rose Mallow is just starting to flower now (mid-July) but I am still waiting for the Sweet Peas to do something other than wind itself around anything its tendrils can grasp.  Rose MallowI also scattered some Black Eyed Susan seeds at one end, of which hubby says “when are you going to weed the garden? Look at that big patch of tall ones over there”…”those aren’t weeds” I said, “they are Black Eyed Susan’s”.  “Well, they look like weeds to me” he says.  Hmmph.  Anything other than a blade of grass looks like a weed to him.

Speaking of tall weeds, it was time to dig up my garlic bulbs.  GarlicI had planted about 16 cloves last Fall, but only a handful survived the winter.  How do you know when garlic is ready to harvest?  The tall, green spikes will start to wither and turn brown just like Daffodil or other Spring flowering bulbs.  Then you will know they are ready to be unearthed.  With a shovel, I carefully dug down several inches around each one and gently popped them to the surface.  Garlic bruises easily, so take care in digging them up.

Once out of the ground, gently brush most of the dirt off the roots (do NOT wash!) and tie them all together in a clump and hang in a warm, dry space out of the sun and rain.  Leave them like this to dry for at least 2 weeks, afterwards, place them in your cold cellar or if you fancy your braided garlic as a decorative item, leave them where they are and just cut off a bulb when you need one.

With the gardening chores done for the day, it was time to relax with a cold one on the deck.  Tomorrow was going to be another fun chore day that I needed to psych myself up for…..

To be continued…

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Chapter 3 of the Homestead Vacation

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Diary of a Homestead Vacation continued from Chapter 2 (review past post here)

Three seasons of the year I love to cozy up in sweaters and I realized I didn’t have a knitted cardigan anywhere in my closet.  I have a zip up hoodie and a few pullovers, but no actual cardigan style sweater.  Pullovers are ok if you are layering to head out in -25C winter weather, but for spring & fall, I need something to ward off the chill without ending up feeling smothered like pullovers are prone to do, along with being quick to shrug off when the next hot flash came.

I am also practical and wanted something durable yet soft and something that washes well.  I don’t like to spend days fussing with a 100% pure wool or other exotic critter fleece, I have better things to do with my time.  Wash and wear is my motto.  So I headed to the local yarn store and walked in to find they were clearing out a line of their in-house yarn.  Called ‘Luxury Wool’, made up of 50% wool and 50% acrylic.  Acrylic makes easy-to-care-for knitted/crocheted garments.  Just machine wash and dry flat, easy as 1-2-3!

Since the yarn was being clearance sold, I scored a great price on the last 6 (100g) balls in a deep Turquiose hue.  Normally the balls sell for 7.99 ea., I picked them up for 1.99 ea…. As I said…SCORE!

Next was to find a cardigan sweater pattern, so I hopped over to Ravelry and spent about an hour looking through a gazillion sweater patterns and not one jumped out at me.  Off to Knitty then.  They don’t have near as many patterns as Ravelry, but I was hopeful to find something….and after 5 minutes of looking…BAM! A gorgeous, simple sweater pattern lept from the computer screen screaming “PICK ME! PICK ME!! I know you will LOVE ME!”.

To see the pattern, click HERE….

Bubble & Squeak

I am calling this project… “Bubble & Squeak”.  Mainly because of the double Moss stitch pattern that makes it look like teeny bubble wrap.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

To quote Ramses (Yul Brynner), love that line from The Ten Commandments.

I just put the finishing touches on my latest knitting project, aptly named “Bolso Muy Grande” or “Very Large Purse” in Spanish.   Which it turned out to be in spades.  I had been looking for a knitted purse pattern that was larger than a fanny pack but smaller than a bread box and had not come across one that I liked until I discovered this one on Ravelry.  Made from 100% cotton yarn (dishcloth cotton yarn even!) knitted in a dimensional squares pattern featuring very practical knitted-in pockets on the outside of the side gussets and handles made from knitted I-chord which were then braided together for strength and flexibility.  It turned out really well and I am thrilled with the results.

Bolso Muy Grande

So with that project out of the way, it was on to the cardigan pattern.  Have you ever started something with such excitement that you quickly scan ahead in the pattern and as you are humming along, you look back and find a booboo? Crap….No….ROYAL CRAPPERS…I had to rip out 5 inches of knitted fabric and re-do it.  Totally hate when that happens.  PAY ATTENTION! I said to myself…. Oh, and don’t drink any alcohol when knitting either, no matter how good a knitter you think you are, the next day you will be sorry, for more than the hangover.

Now I have my newest spare/free time knitting project set but it was also time to focus a little more attention to the gardens….

To be continued…

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Chapter 2 of the Homestead Vacation

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Diary of a Homestead Vacation continued…. (see previous post here)

…..BLUEBERRY picking!

Last year’s wild blueberry season was a total bust.  I don’t think I even picked one full cup of the tasty, little blue pearls.  It was such a hot, dry early Spring that then stretched into Summer and the teeny flowers of the blueberry bushes never had a chance of being pollinated.   The poor plants just shriveled up and keeled over.

This year has been vastly different.  We have had pretty much perfect growing conditions and I suspect we are in for a bumper crop.  My Homestead neighbour who runs a cottage camp emailed to see if I wanted to go berry picking with her, which was perfect as hubby is 6’3” and he doesn’t bend very well to get at the bushes that are only a foot high.  So the next day we set off with our empty baskets, and me bringing along my floppy hat and 2 of our trusty bug zappers for…you guessed it…the dreaded deer flies.

The neighbour looked at the bug zappers (which resemble tennis rackets) with a puzzled look on her face…”what are those?” she asks… “bug zappers” I said.  Her being the new owner of the camp for only a year and half, she had not seen these knew weapons of mass destruction against deer flies (and other biting insects).

I said “trust me, you will need it when we get to Blueberry Hill”.  Which brought her to fits of laughter…”Blueberry Hill? I thought we were going berry picking, not to a Fats Domino concert”.

I just grinned as we headed down the road and then off into the bush.  We walked up onto a large, rock hill just under a half acre in size, basically, the Great Canadian Shield (which is what most of Northern Ontario is made of) studded with pine, spruce, birch and poplar.  At our feet, clumps and clumps of blueberry bushes that were sporting their powder blue gems in big, fat clusters.

As soon as we hunkered down at our first clump (clump being at least 10’ in diameter), the familiar buzzing sound was heard.  The deer flies had found us quickly and we were prime vampire snack material.  Out came the zappers.  My neighbour quickly got the hang of using the deer fly death tool, swatting every few minutes with the familiar ‘Crack!’ signaling a successful kill.  She giggled at the efficiency of the zappers… “I have to get one of these!” she said gleefully.

Blueberries_AAs we hunched over the small bushes, tediously picking in and around the branches in search of the tasty little orbs, we gabbed about anything and everything.  Want to get to know a persons life story? Go berry picking with them, you will have lots of time to cover just about everything.

After 2 hours in the sun and heat, with our baskets almost full, we headed home.  As we walked back, it felt good to stretch the legs and back out as berry picking takes its toll on the body.  Arriving at the Homestead, we plopped the baskets on the kitchen table and I grabbed a couple of cold, frosty beers from the fridge and handed her one…awwww….nothing beats a cold one after spending time out in the hot sun picking berries.  We gabbed for a few minutes more as we finished our cold brew and then  she headed home to squirrel her hard earned berries away from her ever hungry brood of 4 young girls.

I set about washing and spreading the berries out onto sheet pans lined with waxed paper and then popped them into the freezer.  After a couple hours, they are frozen solid and can be dumped into Ziploc bags without fear of ending up a solid blueberry mass.  I now have enough berries for at least one batch of my Spiced Blueberry Jam, tomorrow I would head back out to spend another couple hours picking to ensure I had enough to last me another year.

The rest of the day was devoted to my latest knitting project, a sweater… Yes, I know it is July and 30C out, but in the Northland, it is never too early to start on a Fall sweater…

(to be continued…)

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Diary of a Homestead Vacation

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With technical issues beyond my control no matter how much I stomped my feet in a temper tantrum, I conceded defeat to the telephone line Gods and drank a two-four of beer to drown my sorrows.  Maybe not the entire two-four, but 6 is pretty close isn’t it? How about we went on vacation instead, definitely more plausible a scenario…and I can neither confirm nor deny the consumption of beer.


With nothing to do in cyber space, hubby and I dashed off to the Homestead for some well deserved R&R before his 3 week shutdown commenced mid-July.  This being one of those annual things that he is one of the ringleaders for, and it would require him to be there every waking moment, and every comatose one as well.

So a ‘Pre-Shutdown’ spell of relaxation was necessary for him to get geared up for the myriad of things that can and will go wrong (as with any shutdown/maintenance of production equipment) as well as some necessary down time for me as I have had a very, very busy Spring in my ‘Down South’ job that has kept me hopping heading into July.

Which brings us to Days 1, 2 and 3 of my 3 week long blog ‘vacation’.  Where I did absolutely NOTHING.  Nada. Zip. Zilch.  I know, you are totally jealous and wished you were there with me, cold drink in one hand, sunglasses and floppy hat on, lounging on the deck soaking up the sun and the quiet northern atmosphere.

After that, we scrounged up some energy to go bike riding (btw, our butts have finally become accustomed to the not-so-comfy seats since my last butt busting post), and we puttered around the Homestead with various odd jobs before hubby had to head back to the grind.

By the 5th day of July, one of my very favourite things happened…the strawberry farm close by opened its PYO (pick your own) fields.  I then spent two very happy days picking, washing, stemming, slicing, mashing and putting up a LOT of jam.  One of which is our standby strawberry freezer jam for hubby (his very fav), and 3 batches of strawberry lemon marmalade.


I have fallen in love with the stuff since I first made it last year….and for some reason I have felt compelled to give away some of the priceless sugary stuff to clients as gifts (this must mean I either really like them, or I am having brain farts).

strawberries in bowl

After the jam was done, whatever was leftover was hulled and frozen on sheet trays for a taste of summer in the dead of a Canadian winter…oh, and stuffing as many into our yaps as we could.  Nothing tastes as good as a freshly picked strawberry at its peak of ripeness.  We ate bowls of the stuff either alone, or on top of vanilla ice cream.

Once the strawberry-fest-days were finished, it was on to my next favourite fruit picking time of the year…

(to be continued…..)

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Summer 2013 GangUp Results

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I have issues.  BIG issues.  Like announcing a GangUp Challenge at the start of summer when everyone and their brother, mother, father, uncle and cousin-twice-removed goes on vacation and doesn’t have time or isn’t here to participate.


Mental Note To Self; Do Not Hold GangUp Challenges in the Summer.

Many thanks to my sweet son-in-law who was eagerly awaiting this next challenge and had oodles of time to devote to it.  Lucky him!  He has way too much fun with these challenges and obviously needs to get out more.

I split mine over a 2 week period, lord knows I had plenty of time to mess around with the ingredients due to my blog being lost in cyberspace.

Let’s get this short show on the road then shall we?  Here is the list of ingredients we had to work with, which are a nice random showing of the first of summer’s fresh produce.

Olive Oil
Spring Greens

Scott, my son-in-law, as mentioned before, is the Head Chef in their household.  My lovely daughter never inherited the cooking gene from her mother other than she used to make a mean bowl of KD in her younger years.  Scott has an extremely artistic background too.  He is an accomplished artist and is also an exceptional guitar player(having been part of band for a number of years prior), so these artistic talents of his have transferred over in his cooking creations.  He isn’t afraid of any ingredient (except sweet potatoes, he refuses to have anything to do with them) and he has come up with a great meal out of this challenging list of ingredients.

Here is his creation…

Scott's Masterpiece

That is a plateful of food!!!  and I swear those roasted radishes almost look like mini red potatoes.  An excellent job integrating all the ingredients Scott, I am impressed (again!)

Look here, he even gets all pro on me with his drizzling and plating techniques…


He used all 10 ingredients and added two…eggs and crackers.  Here is his recipe:

Rhubarb  vinaigrette.

½ cup chopped rhubarb
1 green onion finely minced
3 tbsp  sugar
2-3 tbsp vinegar (depending on taste)
1/8 tsp salt
A dash or two of black pepper
1/3 cup oil

Combine rhubarb, onion, sugar, vinegar and salt in a small pan. Simmer approx. 10 minutes until rhubarb is soft.   Whisk in pepper and oil. Pour into a jar or container and allow to cool.

Simple cream sauce

1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heated milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until mixture is well blended. Gradually stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Simmer, stirring frequently, over very low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in cream.

Roasted Radish and pea salad with rhubarb vinaigrette

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut off all but the top 1/2 inch of the radish tops and slice the radishes in half.  Toss the radishes with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast the radishes until they are tender about 20 to 30 minutes.

Sauté peas in butter for a couple of minutes, until warm but still firm. Add radishes and toss with lettuce.  Drizzle rhubarb dressing over the top and enjoy.

Crispy chicken wrapped asparagus

Pound the chicken breast until thin. Coat in flour, egg and crumbled crackers.
Wrap around asparagus and cook at 350* for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through.  Place over a bed of rice and drizzle the cream sauce over the top.

That really was a delicious looking plate of food and hope it tasted as good….but…AHEM…. someone needs a refresher on the rules of this here game!  I count no less than 5 (FIVE!) extra ingredients in that there compilation above:  Butter, Vinegar, Sugar, Milk and Green Onions.

BAD.  Very Bad.

But forgivable only because you are a family member.

Plus, it was a tough list to work with.

The only other entry into this latest challenge was myself, how sad is this go-round? So here are my creations, I came up with 2 different picnic salad options…

Chicken, Pea & Asparagus Salad

Chicken, Spring Vegetable and Rice Salad served over a bed of Spring Greens


Rhubarb & Dijon Dressing

Baby Romaine with Peas and Radishes drizzled with Rhubarb Dijon Dressing

I loved the cold chicken and rice salad.  We have been under an extreme heat spell for the last couple weeks and it was nice to have a cold meal instead of a piping hot one on a 95 degree day.  The salad dressing was…um..unique.  The jury is still out on whether I will make it again given the odd ingredients, it was on the tart side, some sugar would have definitely helped and maybe now that the challenge is over I will add some to use up the rest of it.

Here are the recipes for the above, if you feel like being adventurous…

Rhubarb Dijon Dressing

1 1/2 cups diced Rhubarb
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tbsp Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, place the water and rhubarb and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes until rhubarb is tender.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temp.  In a blender or food processer, add rhubarb and remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Chicken, Spring Vegetable and Rice Salad


½ cup fresh Pod Peas, shelled and rinsed
½ cup Brown & Wild Rice mix, cooked to package directions (you should have about 2 ½ cups cooked rice)
6 Asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 ½” pieces
2 large Radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts grilled, cooled and cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Cook rice to package instructions, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl; chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  2. Place shelled peas and asparagus pieces into a medium saucepan, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes until tender-crisp (do not overcook      veggies).  Drain and immediately plunge veggies into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Leave in ice bath until cold (about 20 minutes); drain and place veggies in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk mustard and mayo with salt and pepper, adjust seasonings to your liking.
  4. Combine cooled chicken with rice, peas, asparagus and radish slices, add dressing and toss to coat.  Serve over a bed of fresh spring greens.

Makes 2 servings.

Ok, so I also made an illegal change.  I left out the flour only because I added Dijon and Mayo and had no idea what to do with the flour.  So which is the better of two evils? leaving one ingredient out or adding 5 more? :D

Looks like I really can’t chastise my son-in-law now can I?

Thanks Scott for joining in, I would be terribly lonely otherwise.  Next time we do this, I may be modifying the rules some…I have some time over the next couple months to ponder what I want to do.

I hope you have enjoyed the latest round of our cooking challenge and hope to see more participants in the next one!

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My ‘UnPlanned’ Summer Vacation

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Unplanned? Yes, totally unplanned… Ok, part of that statement up there is a fib.  I do admit, I DID announce I was going on a ‘Gone Fishin’ trip back on June something or other and it’s been so long since I last posted that I actually forget the date (please don’t remind me either, I feel bad enough already), but that post was more for a ‘planned event’ as there was an upcoming web server technical issue that I knew was going to put a kink in my well laid summer blog plans.

Well….this so-called ’issue’ turned into a full blown catastrophic Windsor KNOT.  Due to a severe storm and major flooding in Toronto, (I nor my web server live within spitball range of Toronto) all the techies responsible for maintenance of telephone lines/installs/etc. were called to service Ontario’s capital city and get them back up and running…leaving everyone else that was waiting for an install hanging….and hanging…and hanging.

After 21 days, I am back in business.

Aren’t you all lucky?

During this whole fiasco, my GangUp Challenge was issued and of course, I couldn’t report any results until I was back in the land of cyberspace.  So next week, look for the skimpy results of the latest cooking challenge, which was such a challenge I think I scared almost all the ‘regulars’ from participating.

It feels good to be back in front of a computer screen…even though the ‘real world’ at the Homestead had WAY better scenery to look at than this white screen with blue and black text….


Next week there will be a ton of stuff for you all to catch up on.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!


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