Weaving Inspiration

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Go look out the window, yup, right out the back door you will find my little herb garden patch, and in it, Spring bulbs poking their sunny, bright faces out of the soil after a long winters sleep.

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Spring is my favourite time of year as all the new growth “springs forth” and finally dissolves the bland whites, greys and browns from winter. I grabbed my camera and took loads of photos of the little clumps of green, purple and yellow flowers, and afterwards, while looking at them on my laptop screen, an idea formed on how to best utilize this floral inspiration into my weaving.

I set to work matching colours of cotton yarn I have on hand with the colours in the photo using one of my favourite designs from the book: A Weavers Book of 8 Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler, which is a highly sought after and must have in almost every weavers personal library, and this is what I came up with.

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I just love this draft for its ability to transform colours into intricate designs. This project will be woven into a limited run of 6 tea towels that will pay homage to Spring. If anyone is interested in purchasing one or two of these, feel free to email me at: stormypointfiberarts@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, get outside and admire all those bright, cheery flowers! They deserve soome adoration after a long, cold winter!

Deborah

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It’s A Green January

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In a corner of the livingroom here at the Homestead sits a folding blue patio table adorned with 3 pots and a small overhead LED light strip.

What are the lights focused on?

Cilantro!

20210106_0937012 pots that are overflowing with bright green leaves and stems that are standing up amazingly well from my daily assault with the scissors since they sprouted over a month ago. I simply cannot go the entire winter without fresh cilantro. Yes, I could buy a sad looking bunch in the grocery store, but they would last a week at most before becoming limp and mushy in the fridge in a glass of water.

There is simply nothing like having fresh herbs around, especially since delicate herbs like cilantro and basil do not lend themselves well to freezing. I tried the ice cube tray trick with both and both were an epic fail.

What is your favourite herb? and how best do you utilize it? For me, Cilantro goes into almost everything, egg dishes, lunches of tuna or salmon/avocado wraps, dinners like pulled pork tacos, soups and stews…the list goes on!

With the global pandemic continuing on through winter, it is imperative that people find new ways to relieve the stress and anxiety of lockdowns and forced displacement from their family members. Take the opportunity to grow a little herb garden in your kitchen, get the kids involved and have them each be responsible for their little pot. Growing plants is a way to brighten up dull, moody days not to mention the health benefits of fresh herbs used in your daily cooking.

My wish is for everyone to get involved in something new, whether it is taking up a new hobby, growing herbs and plants, learning a new language or skill, there are plenty of ways to beat the winter Covid blues.  For me, the ability to grow 2 pots of Cilantro chases away the gray days of January and Covid worries with their brilliant green, happy leaves, which for me, is the best therapy!

Happy Indoor Gardening!

Deborah

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Walking Carefully Into 2021

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Well, 2020 was a complete $hitshow.  My only bright spot was my 2 week vacation in Cuba back in January 2020 before the pandemic and lockdown hit.

Hubby and I bailed southern Ontario on March 25th to spend the rest of the year at the Northern Homestead. Best decision ever. In our remote area, there is not a whole lot of people and the case numbers low compared to Toronto and expanding area.

I spent the summer enthralled in my gardening, helped hubby side the new garage and 3 season room addition, among many other construction tasks.  Managed to get a heck of a lot of weaving done too with 2 looms and 3 spinning wheels up here as well as dyeing yarns while enjoying the solitude of the north country.

Only downside was the dreaded Covid-15 lbs I gained over the year, which amazes me since I was so active. So to start 2021 off, the first order of business is to lose said 15 lbs, and get back to a healthier lifestyle.  After that, learning some new weaving techniques and structures are high on the goal list.

Some eye candy for you all to start your year off, this is a Turned Twill Scarf woven using Tencel yarn (Tencel is a manmade fiber from the pulp of Gum trees) which has the same properties as silk, only much more affordable and a lot easier to care for.

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I wish everyone a safe, happy and most of all, a HEALTHY New Year! Stay safe, please follow medical guidelines so we can stop the spread of this nightmare we are in.

Much love to all of you for being supportive readers, even though I have not been writing a whole lot the past year. I am looking to change that, and make it a priority for 2021 to get back to writing as I do miss it!

Deborah

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Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Spinach Frittata

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This morning I woke up to the sound of gunshots, don’t worry though, it wasn’t directed at any humans, just the annual Fall duck hunters blasting my duckie buddies out of the water.  It makes me sad, but I know people hunt to put food on the table and I am ok with that aspect, after all, I am a meat eater myself.

So to keep my mind off the hunters, I headed to the kitchen to make a fabulous Sunday brunch frittata.  Yesterday I had cleared out the raised garden beds except for the carrots and came away with a bounty of peppers, tomatoes, chard and spinach, and the spinach was going to be a supporting cast member in this mornings breakfast.

The next 2 must have ingredients are onions and mushrooms…simmering in butter until caramelized and then folded into a luscious egg and cheese mixture, divine I tell you!

Here is today’s recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did this morning!

20201004_072129Ingredients
6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onions
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups baby spinach, roughly torn
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add sliced onions and salt and pepper to taste and cook slowly until just starting to caramelize, add mushrooms and thyme, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are browned.

20201004_063102Add spinach and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and spread across the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

20201004_063901In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Add the cheeses and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the onion, mushroom and spinach mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes until set.

20201004_071226Remove from oven, cut into 4 pieces and serve with a toasted crostini. Enjoy and if you make this, feel free to leave a comment below!

Makes 4 servings

 

 

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Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

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It has been a very hectic Spring and Summer here at the Homestead, not just the usual busy gardening season (which is now winding down), but we have had a lot of excitement with the construction of a new garage as well as a 3 Season Room addition to the Homestead. Exciting, but also anxiety filled when dealing with a contractor, glad that part is now behind us!  Now that the structures are up and usable it is time to get back to doing what I love, crafting and cooking!

We had a lovely hot, dry summer and the pepper garden exploded with produce as a result.  I have already pickled quite a few jalapenos, chopped and froze gypsy peppers, roasted poblano peppers and new this year is pickling pepperoncini peppers and making my own hot sauce for hubby (more on those two in later posts), but lets jump back a step to the poblano peppers.

Poblanos are my favourite pepper, their flavour is so vastly different from any other pepper, with just a mild tingle of heat.  They are a staple in Mexican cuisine and a staple in my kitchen.

I had 2 corn cobs leftover from the weekend in the fridge and needed to use them up before they got starchy (corn cobs left too long see the natural sugars in the corn turn into starch, then the corn becomes unappetizing and tough) and I had just picked 8 poblano peppers to roast so I thought hmmm…why not make a soup out these two lovely candidates?  Corn goes well with Poblanos so I pulled out some frozen chicken stock from the freezer and got to work.

The result? A savoury and delightful soup packed with great flavour!

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Ingredients

6 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 ears of sweet corn, roasted or grilled and kernels cut from the cob
2.5 cups of chicken stock (for a vegetarian option, use veggie stock)
3 Tbsp butter (or Olive Oil)
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 chopped cilantro stems (reserve some leaves for garnish)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (more to taste at the end)
Crema, Crème Fresh, Yogurt or Sour Cream for garnish
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Directions
In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter and sweat onions until soft and translucent (about 7 to 8 minutes). Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir to combine. Add chicken stock (or veggie stock if using) and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add poblanos, corn, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, blitz soup to desired consistency (or use a regular blender, careful transferring soup contents as they will be hot!).

Place soup back on low heat and add the lime juice and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with a dollop of crema (or your preferred option listed above), hot sauce and fresh cilantro.

Buen Provecho!

Makes 6 servings

Deborah

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Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash and Root Veggie Soup

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Sometimes I like to have an adult version of butternut squash soup.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the pureed version, but there are times when a chunky version fits the “chilly Fall day” without feeling like you are eating baby food.

This recipe came about like most of the ones I do…..I look in the fridge and see all the leftovers and “not-enough-ofs” and go from there. Today, October 9th, in Northern Ontario, Mother Nature decided to jack up the temperature,  just for fun I guess after a solid week of cold, blustery, rainy weather.  It ended up being 75F (24C) and very humid, but the day didn’t start out like that so at 6 am in the morning I roasted a butternut squash until soft, golden and filling the house with its delicious nutty aroma and left it to cool while I did some outdoor chores.

12 hours later and starving, I pulled out 3 leftover parsnips from the fridge, the last of the carrots I yanked from the garden today and the remaining equation to the culinary trio, some celery and onions. After dicing my way through the veggies to some very lively Spanish guitar music, soon the holy trinity et al were being sautéed to a golden brown. I then added the chunks of squash, freshly made chicken stock (thank you sweet son-in-law for leaving me with the cherished poultry carcasses last weekend), along with some just picked garden thyme and voila, after a 30 minute simmer…delicioso!!!!

For those needing structure, the recipe is below in its entirety,  but oh man, was it fabulous with toasted whole grain bread and a sprinkle of parmesan I think it is my new favourite soup!

Provecho!
Deborah

Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Veggie Soup

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Ingredients
1 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes*
3 Parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large rib of Celery, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced
2 small cloves of Garlic, mashed
5 Cups Home-Made Chicken Stock (use Veggie stock for a vegetarian option)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper & Sea Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves
Olive Oil

Directions

* Toss cubed squash lightly with Olive Oil and Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400F degree oven for about 30 minutes or until browned all over and tender inside (stir often), set aside and let cool.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add 2 to 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil and add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook, stirring often for about 10 to 15 minutes until veggies are soft.

Add butternut squash and mix gently.  Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings just before serving.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and toasted, crusty bread for dipping.

Makes about 6 Cups.

 

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Growing like….weeds

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Yup.  Growing season has commenced!  Things are right on schedule in the seedling world.  So much so that I had to give the pepper plants a haircut to promote bushier growth as opposed to wanting to be giant bean stalk height.  They have been under a grow light since they sprouted and have just gone crazy.

The tomatoes are now well on their way. I started them a full month after the peppers because last year I experimented with starting peppers early to be immensely rewarded with fruit ready much sooner and more mature plants by the time I got them nestled into their summer beds.  The tomatoes will soon catch up and surpass the peppers in no time as they are such fast growers_DSC6532I have also started my next pot of cilantro as the first one is bolting already.  It doesn’t matter how often I snip and use up the ‘soapy’ herb, it still wants to bolt when IT wants to.  The mint is also getting out of control, he is ready for a hair cut as well.

I started the mint and basil this year from cuttings from last years plants as trying to get them started from seeds is a HUGE hassle, especially mint.  So I put the cuttings in glasses of water to root, then planted them where they slowly established themselves over the winter in pots.  In the past few weeks, they have exploded.  I gave the basil a severe haircut and froze the leaves in a new-fangled procedure I learned off the inter-web.  Once I go to use some of the frozen basil the next time I need some in a recipe, I will let you all know how it fared out.

_DSC6531Now I just need to concentrate on keeping my little green buddies healthy until I get them planted at the Northern Homestead…which, with the way this Spring has been going (or lack thereof), may not be until August!

What have you started to grow? Do you have a favourite tomato or pepper type? or other veggies?

Deborah

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Tomato & Avocado Salad

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I had a pretty good garden crop this year, especially the tomatoes.  A bumper crop of the luscious round globes had me eating them in a variety of ways, especially with the extended summer heat of September.  The thought of having to prepare and cook a hot meal on days where the mercury climbed above 30C had me melting into a puddle.  Salads became a staple for lunches and dinners.

A favourite is this super simple and super tasty tomato and avocado salad.  With so few ingredients, you are done in a snap!

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Ingredients
4 Garden Fresh Tomatoes (for a prettier plate, use multi-coloured tomatoes like Golden Queen and Heirloom varieties)
2 ripe Haas Avocados
1/4 cup diced Red or Sweet Onion
6 fresh sprigs of Cilantro
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Limes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with the fresh lime juice and set aside.

Slice tomatoes and arrange on 2 plates.  Peel, pit and slice avocados and arrange over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle onion over tomatoes and avocados.  Drizzle with the olive oil and lime dressing and top with fresh cilantro leaves. That’s it! You are done!  To make this into a satisfying and healthy dinner salad, just add some grilled chicken or salmon along with a nice crusty loaf of whole grain bread.

Serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.

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First Garden Produce Of 2017

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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
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Cheddar Chive Cornbread

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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

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