Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lollipops to Help a Cough

Candy making is something that has always intrigued me and scared me at the same time.

 I’m not afraid to say that I have an extreme lack of patience. So when it comes to heating up boiling sugar to a VERY specific temperature I usually stand at the stove wanting to turn up the heat past medium high to move things along and I look like a kid staring at the pot saying ‘is it ready yet is it ready yet?’

Let me start by saying, a candy thermometer is a MUST have for making candy. I have a cook book that says you don’t need a thermometer and goes on to explain testing the sugar for a certain stage in the candy making process.  Let’s just say, putting a drop of boiling sugar in a glass of cold water to see if it forms a ball then spreads out when it hits the bottom is not a good way to test for soft ball stage. Trust your candy thermometer and the little tick on it that says soft ball stage!

The reason why I wanted to make candy last week and specifically lollipops is because Max had a terrible cold and was coughing up a storm. This is why honey lemon lollipops were on the top of my list for the day.

I found the recipe here I’ve also pinned the link to the recipe in the 'Home Remedies' board on Pinterest, there is another recipe for flavored lollipops in ‘The Candy Man Can’ board on Pinterest so if you follow me there that's where you will find them.

The recipe is super easy and takes no time at all. Which surprised me because sometimes making candy it quite the commitment.  

All you have to do is start with the very small list of ingredients. I did have to go out and buy lollipop sticks, which you can find at the bulk barn.

Mix all your ingredients together in a pot and let it come to a boil on medium high ( I held myself back and didn't turn up the heat) until you get to the hard crack stage. 

 Then pour your very very super duper hot hot hot syrup carefully onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I was scared of burning myself but I can out unscathed, but please be careful.

You have to work fast because once the syrup starts to cool it gets really thick and hard to pour. But if it's too hot you will have a hard time pouring perfect circles. This picture is of my second batch of strawberry flavored lollipops. I did a better job on these. The honey lollipops were crazy looking shapes but tasted very good!

And there you have it kids! Homemade lollipops! 

They are a little different then store bought but that really goes without saying. They are crunchier and I would like to play with the flavoring a bit but they seem to be a hit here. You can always get kids to try candy creations without anyone turning up their noses! 

Now that I have a little more confidence with candy I may try something else.  Christmas is almost here so stay tuned who knows what I might get my hands into!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Rice Krispie Square vs Rice Krispie Treats

I'm sure I'm not the only mother who has tasted a Rice Krispie Treat and shuddered at the artificial too sweet flavor.

That's not the case with our kids though. I don't know if they like the waxy sprinkle like topping or the sweetness, but my kids want them and that is all there is to it.

I have never purposely bought a box of Rice Krispie Treats for the above reasons but Jack has come across them honestly, be it in his Halloween bag or at a birthday party.

I decided one day that I was going to try something just a little different with the old school Rice Krispie Squares and hope that it would be something I could add to Jack's lunch box without him asking me why we can't just buy the ones at the store.

I took your basic Rice Krispie Square recipe;

1/4 cup butter
40 large marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
1 tsp vanilla
And the secret...regular run of the mill sprinkles!

Make your squares just like it says on the box, and once you press them into your pan...wait for it....sprinkle your sprinkles on top and push them down.

I wouldn't recommend mixing them in because depending on the sprinkles you use the colour may mix in with the melted marshmallow and make for a not so good looking treat.

I'm pleased to say these were a hit, with not only Jack but the whole family and they are now a weekly staple that we can't live without.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A Rat Tale

Before we dive into this lovely 'tail', I need to set the scene.

Weeks before we moved to the country I had asked my Dad if I could keep chickens on the property.

His response was,'of course you can dear, you can do whatever you want. I'm just worried about the rats'. To which I responded, 'what rats?'  Did my Dad have pet rats I didn't know about? I don't think chickens are a feared enemy to rats, that I know of. My Dad informed me that he had it on good authority that where there are chickens there are rats.

This comment confused me,being the amateur 'homesteader' that I am (if I can even call myself that). I wasn't sure if you got the chickens handed to you with the rats in a separate box or they materialized out of nowhere when you brought the chickens home.

Which brings me to Sunday morning.  It was just another lazy morning. Kids were still in their jammies going about there business, building armies with every single toy they had. Anthony was folding laundry, I was attempting liquid eyeliner in the bathroom. I had mentioned to my Dad earlier that our cat Duster was chasing something around the night before and was now obsessively staring at the cupboard doors under the sink. In cat behavior that means there's a mouse.

Duster has gotten very good at catching mice since we moved here. He likes to play with them until there is no play left, in the mouse that is. He left us a little treat in our room a few weekends ago. Poor mouse.

I have gotten use to the idea of mice though. The house we live in is close to 90 years old and has a dirt floor basement, it would be weird if there weren't any mice...right?

Every few weeks my Dad sets traps and catches some here and there but since the weather has really cooled down they seem to be making it into the living space. I myself have a don't ask don't tell policy because if it were up to me I'd have those cute little guys named and fed regularly in a nice cozy cage.

But Sunday was different. My Dad took Dusters sign seriously and opened the cupboard doors, there was some shuffling about and I looked over from the bathroom and said 'oh, is there a mouse?'
'No, it's a rat' my Dad replied.

Just a little aside. If you know my family you would understand that I took that as a sarcastic comment. Because that is how my family communicates. Sarcasm is in our veins and there is nothing that can really be taken too seriously and there is always time for a smart ass comment.

I rolled my eyes (which I was making a mess out of with the liquid eyeliner) and didn't think anything of it until my Dad called Anthony over to help him. Anthony had asked what he had found and my Dad said 'well either it's a rat or the biggest mouse I've ever seen'.

I will spare you the details of how the situation was handled (if you know my Dad though, use your imagination) but it was a rat (shiver) a pretty big one (gah). We're not talking a New York City sewer rat or anything but it wasn't a pet store rat that's for darn sure!

After all was said and done, my Dad came back to the kitchen and said 'See, I told you. It's because of those chickens! I've never had rats before!'

In my defense, the chickens are 40 feet from the house and I still don't believe that it's their fault.

Anyway, that was our exciting Sunday morning. I hope your was better!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

My Kitchen, the Dairy

I have plowed through a lot of milk this week, more then I thought I would but it was so worth it!

I've been staring at the dairy recipes in one of my recipe books for weeks now wanting so badly to make yogurt and cheese but to be honest I've just been afraid. Mostly of wasting ingredients because money doesn't grow on trees.

But I finally bit the bullet and made an attempt at yogurt. I read the recipe over and over making sure I had everything I needed and understood what needed to be done. Which really is something you should do with any new recipe.

Fruit at the bottom yogurt was first on my list. I was surprised at how easy making yogurt is. It's kind of like bread in a sense that there is just a lot of waiting. Waiting for the milk to come to the right temperature then wrapping up the jars of soon to be yogurt in towels and waiting for the cultures to do their thing and waiting just a little bit longer for the yogurt to cool in the fridge before you can dig into the creaming yogurty goodness you have created.

I have to say that even though I love the yogurt that I made it was very plain and very tangy. It's a far cry from the sweetened yogurt you buy at the grocery store but with a bit of homemade granola thrown on top and the fruit bottom I'll take homemade any day.

My Dad is a Greek yogurt convert that wasn't too fond of the above yogurt that I made and asked if I could try making Greek yogurt.  With my new found yogurt making confidence I agreed, found a recipe and off I went. Up until that day I didn't know that you could make yogurt in a slow cooker but seeing how you make it without one and reading how a yogurt maker works it made sense. Again, there was a lot of waiting. I started this yogurt in the afternoon because it needed 8-12 hours for the cultures to do their thing so by the time that part rolled around we were all snuggled in bed.

The next morning was like Christmas! I went running down to see if the cultures worked their magic, and they did! I haven't done any research on why Greek yogurt is different from regular but I came to my own conclusions when the recipe said I had to put the yogurt in a tea towel lined colander to drain the whey from the yogurt which after a few hours left a rich creamy Greek yogurt. I had some small tupperware containers hanging around so I spooned some homemade jam into the bottom and filled them up with yogurt and put them in the fridge to cool. I prefer the Greek yogurt to the plain, I think anyone would. It's just creamier and richer and sooooo good. I will add the link for this recipe at the bottom of the page for those of you brave enough to take the challenge!

With my confidence at a very high point I decided that yesterday I was going to take on mozzarella cheese! Yes cheese! I can't even say cheese now without getting excited because I'm still on cloud 9 about what I have created. Not like I'm the first person to make cheese ever but I feel unstoppable!

With Alana Chernila's recipe book by my side (I've mentioned this book more then once I'm sure) I dove in head first. There were two ingredients I had to order to make this happen which were liquid rennet and citric acid. I ordered them from Glengarry Cheese Making Co. (http://www.glengarrycheesemaking.on.ca/) but there are a ton of places you can find these things online, thank you world wide web!

There wasn't as much waiting with cheese but there were a lot more steps to the process. Heating milk, curdling milk then curds and whey (no tuffets or miss muffets) then heating and pulling and stretching and then...cheese, a beautiful ball of cheese. Something to be enjoyed warm or cold or melted or as my kid likes it pulled like a cheese string. We are going to enjoy our cheese in a homemade lasagna tomorrow and I just can't wait.

I didn't know there was a cheese maker hidden inside me but I'm happy that I can call myself a 'dairy queen'!

But right now this blogger has to go to the store to buy some more milk.

Could there be a cow coming to My Not So Pioneer Life?!

Here is the recipe for the Greek yogurt;


A few notes - I added some of the plain yogurt I made as a starter. You can buy plain Greek yogurt at the store and use that as a starter
Instead of letting the yogurt sit in a towel in a colander, I hung mine in a jelly bag over a colander and let it drain that way

This is Alana Chernila's blog, you can find her recipe book there as well as her awesome blog!


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Feathery Addition

Our family is pleased to annouce the addition of three hens to our Not So Pioneer Life!

I have been toying with the idea of owning chickens since we moved. After doing my research I got everyone on board (it wasn't hard to convince the kids) we finally committed.

A coop was built (or rather a castle for chickens), food was purchased. I am now the proud  owner of a frequent chicken feed card. Buy 10 bags of feed and get the 11th free! Now all the was left were the chickens!

We purchased our 5 month old hens from Kricklewood Farm in Brockville Ontario.  I have to say a big thank you to Dale Horeczy for all of his advice and help and support in getting me started. I will put his website at the bottom of this blog for anyone who is interested in checking out his farm.

I was so excited when Anthony and my Dad came home with the hens! It was like Christmas!

Bringing home chickens is far from bringing home a puppy. There are no kisses and tail wagging, no furry friend to pet and snuggle with. It's more like feathers and clucking.  It was hard for the kids (and me) to just leave the chickens alone and allow them to get settled but we did.

The next morning everyone got their boots on and headed out to the coop only to find a beautiful egg waiting for us.

It was hard to contain my eggcitement! We all held the egg and Max smelled it, like he smells everything. The egg was approved and then made into an omlette. For some reason it was strange to eat an egg directly from a chicken, I'm not sure why. It tasted like an egg. Probably because it was one, probably just me.

Since our first egg we have had two more and now production has seemed to stop.  Chickens are finicky things.

We've had the chickens for a week now and although they aren't your regular house pet they are fun. The come when I call them and make the sweetest bawking noises. They like pecking around in the garden and having dust baths.  I could honestly sit and watch them for hours.

So without further ado I would like to introduce Captain Henway,  Padmegg Amadala and Princess Layalot!

Please check out  www.Kricklewoodfarm.com

Thursday, 9 October 2014


Tonight was the dinner to end all dinners! Maybe I shouldn't say end, it's more like a beginning.

A couple of years ago Anthony and I started trying to pay more attention to the preservatives and other nasties that go into our food that we eat.

I would like to make it clear though that 3 out of 4 of the people in our family are extremely picky eaters so we don't shy away from McDonald's here and there, no one runs for the veggie platter at a party (except Anthony) and heaven forbid we run out of potato chips!

Tonight's dinner menu began at 11:00am when I sprinkled 4 teaspoons of yeast over a small bowl of warm sugar water. Over the day, with a few more ingredients and some elbow grease we would have french bread with dinner. At about 2:00pm I cracked open 2 cans of whole tomatoes,  blended them, added some spices, onion and oil and let our tomato sauce simmer down. What came next though was the best part.

It's my birthday on Saturday, and for my birthday my Dad bought me a pasta maker! I love all things pasta and now that I get to make on my own I don't know what I am going to do with myself!

I'm sure you've all seen how pasta is made be it in your mother or grandmother's kitchen or on the food network.  It's so easy! Two cups of flour and 3 eggs is all it takes!

Once I got through the technical part, kneeding the dough and letting it rest, it was time to break out the pasta maker. Oh it was so much fun! I do have to say, it's easier with four hands then two, as my recipe book so kindly told me, and luckily I had a few hands to help. The best was Jack who pretended to be the dough and said 'Ahhh...I'm being squished' as he rolled it through the cutter!

I didn't know you had to dry the pasta before you cooked it so I had to turn my quilt rack into a pasta dryer. It actually worked perfectly.  Thankfully the cats weren't around, because hanging spaghetti can tend to look like string!

Now we've come to dinner. I've spent small parts of the day building up to this moment. The bread has proofed, been shaped, proofed again and baked. The tomatoes have simmered down to a beautiful  thick rich red sauce and the pasta has dried and been cooked.

As we all sat down and began eating I waited for the 'I don't like this' or the 'mommy I'm not hungry' but it never came. It was silent and silent at our dinner table means the food is good.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The tale of a bedside table

I like shopping just as much as the next person but lately I'm finding that up cycling is just a bit more gratifying.

I was in need of a small bedside table. Nothing fancy, just somewhere to put my lip balm a book, lotion and water. A ledge to push my alarm clock off of.  You know, the stuff every girl needs beside her bed.

Now I said that I like shopping but having two boys means I don't get any time to look at anything. It would seem though, that I have all the time in the world to sand and spray paint things! Who doesn't want to spray paint things?!

My Dad has a collection of random old furniture that isn't really antique but not that new. So when I found what would be the perfect table I was given his blessing to do with it as I saw fit.  I just needed to find the right colour.

I am not really ever fancy about the things I up cycle and since my head is always going a million miles an hour I usually make hasty decisions because if I think about something too much I won't make a decision.

So there I was in Rashotte Home Building Centre in Tweed walking past the spray paint. I knew I had to pick a colour because who knew when I would be there again. The first colour that I saw I bought, but there were so many colours to choose from.

Excited to arrive home, I  got startes sanding down the table a wee bit (thank heavens for power sanders) and proceeded to spray.  I took on this project in August which meant it was very humid outside. After the first coat of paint, I put the table in the small barn we have. The next morning I went out only to find it covered with stupid flying ants that just had to land on my creation in progress and get stuck. Oh and there was a curious footprint that could have only belonged a racoon.

Despite the minor set backs I sprayed on, of course after picking off the bugs. I brought the table into the house to finish drying and to keep it  away from said nusences only to wake up the next morning to find cat prints on the table!

After all was said and done my beside table turned out beautifully even though you can still make out a print or two and that it took forever to dry in the humid weather.

I love my table and it's being put to good use!

Monday, 29 September 2014

A bird in the fireplace is not worth two in the bush

I knew that with moving to the country run ins with animals would become more frequent.

I've grown accustomed to the frogs that hop around all over the property, the teeny little chipmunks that follow us looking for peanuts, the occasional racoon and skunk and turkey.  I'm not crazy about how close the coyotes sound when their howling at night but usually these run ins happen in the great wide open outdoors.

What happened this morning took place in the not so wide open house.

I had just sent Jack off to school and was getting Max breakfast when I heard what sounded like a cat playing with tin foil. Sadly it was not that, it was a bird that had thought it was a clever idea to jump down the chimney.

Just a side note, we have all been enjoying a beautiful indian summer so the fireplace was not lit.

I ran in a panic to get my Dad who casually shook his head and went to light a cigarette, clearly not as concerned as I was. After I got him on board with a bit more urgency we strategically placed a bed sheet in front of the fireplace and opened the door, but the bird didn't come out...of course.  I was left to man the bed sheet while Dad went to get a flash light and then you can guess what happened. The bird found a week spot in our fool proof plan and flew like crazy all around the living room.

I ran to any door I could open yelling for Dad as the bird flew to every closed window, and then the cat, oh the cat! Duster, who is our smallest cat came out of nowhere, like a lion and pounced on the poor bird. Now remember I'm yelling like there is a pterodactyl flying around! 'Dad...No Duster. ..Dad! The cats going to eat the bird! !!'

Then my Dad in all the calm in the world walks in, grabs the bird and lets it go outside.

 I think other then a small heart attack the bird was okay and he flew off. I'm sure promising itself never to fly down a chimney ever again.

Oh and where was Max during all of this? Sitting on the couch watching a movie.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Who ate all the cookies

I don't know about you but homemade cookies are a staple in our house.

Our top 3 (at the moment) are ginger snaps, oatmeal and chocolate chip. This doesn't include our seasonal favorites like pumpkin cookies and shortbread.

I made a batch of oatmeal cookies yesterday, my recipe makes about 3 and a half dozen depending on how much Max and I pick at the batter.

But back to the cookies! These oatmeal cookies are delicious, I know my opinion is bias but I don't have any written reviews. These cookies are soft and caramely with a hint of cinnamon, and there are only 4 left!

Now I'm not completely innocent, I did have 2 for breakfast and so did Jack, and Anthony and my Dad being the avid eat just about everything kind of guy it really isn't a surprise that they are almost gone.

Now I think that it's only far that since I've been bragging  about these cookies that I share the recipe. You can add chocolate chips or raisins (if you're a raisin person) or do what I do and make half the batch plain and the other half, add chocolate chips.

Oatmeal Cookies
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda
1tbsp hot water

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until frothy. Beat in both sugars. Add cooking oil and vanilla.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water and stir in.
Add oats, flour, salt and cinnamon.  Stir well. Drop by spoonfuls (I use a medium ice cream scoop) onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes.

After you make these your cookie jar will look like mine.

If your cookies make it to the jar!

Who Doesn't Want Ice Cream?

Uprooting your family from your hometown can always be a little scary. We've been learning our way around locating the drug store and grocery store and so on. Lucky for us the village of Tweed isn't a bustling metropolis so it hasn't been that challenging. I know there are some hidden gems in this town that I haven't found yet though!

Our most recent adventure was to the Arctic Rock ice cream stand!

The stand is located at 560 Moira Street across the road from the Tim Hortons. 
They boast a wide variety of unique flavors while using local ingredients whenever possible. They are also 100% Canadian!

We drive by the stand often enough and I usually make note of their signs every few days advertising a new flavor. One day I noticed the sign said 'try our red velvet cake ice cream' and I knew I had to go. Sadly when we finally got around to going they were sold out of the red velvet flavor (sad pouty face). I moved on though and started examining their original flavors as well as the tried favorites like cookies and cream and tiger tale. 

The boys stayed true to their favorites, Jack had cotton candy (with gummy bears on top), while Max had cookies and cream.

 Anthony had butterscotch ripple and I had a flavor called Tin Roof Sundae (I think it was Sundae). It was a vanilla ice cream with a caramel ribbon and chocolate covered peanuts. YUM! Need I say more?

I would definitely make time to stop at this little stand on your way through Tweed on hwy 37. You just might find something new! 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

DIY Compost Bin

Having 5 people living in one house can produce a lot of garbage and since we're off the beaten path we don't have garbage pick up...AT ALL! We get to go to the dump! Fun!

In order to keep our garbage under control we have to be on top of our recycling.  We usually burn all of our boxes and papers because you can have a fire in your backyard whenever.  One of the perks of country living! All of our cans, plastics and garage get sorted at the dump.

I noticed that we had a lot of food waste, which meant we needed a compost bin. But compost bins are expensive,  especially the one I wanted.

You know what that meant? ! DIY project!

I've found that a a lot of my DIY projects are really DIA (do it Anthony) or DID (do it Dad) projects.  I have high hopes for myself and a drill and saw one day but for now I'm happy to leave it to the professionals...then take credit for it.

Working with the 'Use What You Got' motto from my previous blog, I hit Pinterest for some ideas and my Dad took inventory of what he and we came up with this.

We had a large blue barrel hanging around that my Dad put large holes in on either end, big enough to put a metal rod through.

He built a frame from extra wood he had lying around.

Cut a whole in the side of the barrel for our waste to go into.

With a little fine tuning,  old hinges and some barrel bolts he put on the door so no animals could get into it. Then Max and I drilled some holes all around the barrel for air circulation and.....

A DIY compost bin! 
Big thanks to my Dad for taking on the project!

With regular trips to the composter we've gone 4 days without having to change the garbage!

Potatoes by the pound

In the last week I've picked about 15 lbs of potatoes from our backyard garden. That put me in the garden for about 2 hours in nice enough weather.

The work wasn't exactly back breaking, if back soring was a phrase I would use that, but you get the idea. Picking potatoes isn't the easiest or cleanest line of work but when I was finished, and got all the dirt out from under my finger nails,  I felt extremely accomplished then was quickly overcome with a dread of , how are we going to eat all of the potatoes kind of feeling.

Potato recipes to follow and storage info to follow!

As I was digging up our lovely Yukon Gold potatoes it made me think of my Great Grandfather William Dungar. William immigrated from England to Canada in 1904 (well after the good old pioneer days) when he was 16 and worked as a farm hand in Lindsay Ontario.

I was lucky enough to have been given his diaries from 1917 to 1920. His diaries are a great read and a piece of history some might say because he was fighting for our country in World War 1. It's his diary from 1920 that has really stuck with me though. After the war he resumed his life as a farm hand and through the summer months he recorded all the produce the farm harvested, most of that harvest included potatoes. He would write from day to day, 8 bags of potatoes, 10 bags of potatoes and so on.

I can't begin to imagine what a 12 hour day of field work must have been like 94 years ago, 2 hours were enough for this Not So Pioneer Life. I've grown a new found respect for those farmers who planted and picked by hand but also for the farmers of today that sell their harvest from homemade fruit and veggie stands on the side of the road.

My potato harvest is quietly drying out between sheets of newspaper waiting to be stored in a cool dry place until we need them.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Use what you got

As a kid growing up we spent every Sunday evening at my Nan's with the whole family.

And as sure as Sunday dinner would roll around, more often then not my Nan would be making biscuits to go with dinner.

Some of my earliest memories are of my Nan and I elbow deep in flour. I knew the dough was ready when she called me into the kitchen, dabbed my nose with flour and handed me a soup can.

The soup can was for cutting the biscuits.  I still to this day am not sure if she used the same can week after week or if it was a newer one but it was always on the counter ready to go.

I am partial to circle cutters myself but since mine have gone missing I was glad that I cracked open a can of chicken soup for the boys today. Which made me equally glad to have a wonderful memory come flooding into my kitchen.

I didn't keep the soup can that I used to cut my biscuits today but I know that I will always keep the memory of Nan and I elbow deep in flour, soup can in hand.

So remember in your not so pioneer life,  use what you have because Nan knew that her biscuits would taste just as good when she cut them with a soup can.

Friday, 8 August 2014

My Dad and his cake

I made a delicious Peaches and cream cake today with fresh Ontario peaches that I bought in Tweed. I was sad when I had finished the batter and couldn't find my bundt pan. We are still unpacking so I was forced to use my Dads silicone bundt pan...why he has one at all is beyond me.

I've always been skeptical of the silicone pans. I know they won't melt in the oven and baked goods are supposed to pop out of them...but not greasing a pan is unheard of to me but I continued on for the sake of the cake.

This cake took 90 minutes to bake which is a long time for anyone who loves baking but it was torture to my Dad.  When I finally took it out of the oven I had to beat him off with a stick to stay away from it and let it cool but he insisted on picking at the bottom of the cake.  After 2 hours of cooling I finally took the cake successfully out of the pan and covered it in a delicious vanilla glaze (and took a pretty picture).

After about 10 minutes my Dad's spidey cake sense must have been tingling because he came into the living room and asked if we could finally have a piece, to which I said yes. He then hopped over to the counter and cut himself a piece of cake which really meant a quarter of the cake. He then noticed I had left out the extra glaze and proceeded to smother his quarter slice all the while saying 'oh ya smother me in it and eat me up'!

That's my Dad for you!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Butter is better

I was gifted an amazing cook book from my awesome boss who is also a very good friend. The book is called, The Homemade Pantry and it has been an inspiration to My Not So Pioneer Life. The book is full of recipes and advice on how to stock your fridge and pantry with homemade staples like butter, bread, crackers and yogurt instead of store bought. The idea being, knowing exactly what is going into your food. Today I made butter...and not by accident.  I'm sure everyone has over whipped whipping cream at some point! There were no churns involved although the idea if churning my own butter does intrigue me. Today I left the elbow grease to my kitchen aid mixer. The recipe calls for 2 cups of heavy cream. Whip it on high speed until the cream separate's (about 5 to10 minutes), let it sit until you have butter and buttermilk. With cold hands knead the butter and squeeze all the buttermilk out and save it for up to 3 days on the refrigerator.  Then all you have to do is knead the butter until no more liquid comes out. Occasionally rinsing it under water. I have to say that fresh butter on crackers tastes amazing and is very gratifying.  I wouldn't bake with homemade butter only because with this recipe you get maybe a 1/2 cup so just using it as a spread will be good enough for us! I highly recommend giving homemade butter a go, even if it's only a one time thing.  Because how cool is it to sat that you can make your own butter? Gold stars to all you butter makers out there! Happy churning!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Worms are hard to catch. ...amongst other things

It rained for most of the afternoon and into the evening today.  A sad thing for a summer day but not if you have the very serious business of worm catching to get to. My Dad has always taken an interest in worm catching, I'm not sure why. We don't often fish and even if we did we wouldn't eat anything that we caught. But it's something that Jack and my Dad can do together after Max goes to bed so who am I argue? So off they went with their flashlights into the dark foggy night. Just a quick side note. ..it's really dark here, like pitch black and things russel in the bushes and trees,  it's  creepy. I went out with them thinking, really, how hard can it be to catch a worm?  I have mastered catching frogs already,  even the little teeny toads we keep finding in the grass are no problem.  We found a salamander that was very content to sit in my hand, until it peed on me which I took as a sign to put it back where I found it. I've even caught a snake...just to show the boys it was no big deal. In real life though, it freaked me the heck out (shivers). Back to the worms. They're really hard to catch!  We caught 1! By we, I mean my Dad...the guy that is all about catching worms. We found tons but for invertebrates that have no eyes or ears or noses man those things can feel you coming.  I got my hand on one or two of them but they are stong little suckers. Moral to the story...we cannot be relied upon to find worms to use as bate to catch fish in the zombie apocalypse.  I have be given the task of finding proper worm catching techniques. Until next time! Happy worm hunting!

Friday, 1 August 2014

How did we get here and where are we going?

About 4 months ago my husband and I decided to press the restart button on life. Anthony had just lost his job and we were faced with the decision to continue on in the rat race of the city or take our kids and invade my Dads hobby farm in Thomasburg Ontario. Country life has always appealed to me...the fresh air the space, being able to let your kids run wild and not have to worry about cars and other dangers the city may bring. And what about the country shops,  antique markets and being able to buy farm fresh eggs directly from the farm?  But like anything there are things to consider like being 35 minuted from the closest city. Which means running to Walmart isn't so easy. There aren't any parks or recreation centre's at every turn like they have in Brampton that's for sure. In the end we decided that country life was going to be the life for our family. So we sold our home packed up a U Haul said goodbye to our wonderful neighbourhood and took the plunge. We are now occupying my Dad's attic space which I have to say is kind of cool...slanty but cool. Now don't get me wrong, we aren't in the middle of nowhere.  We are a 10 minute drive from the village of Tweed which offers mostly all of the essentials.  Two ice cream shops ,a bakery grocery store and The House of Boutiques.  I haven't been in The House of Boutiques yet but you can bet your bottom dollar that you're going to hear about it soon!  Since moving in two weeks ago herb gardens have been planted as well as a garden to attract honey bees...I'm hoping to have my own hive going at some point. My kids are out more often than not riding on tractors looking for things boys look for. I have been given wonderful gifts as of late, snakes, worms,  salamanders, frogs. I think this no so pioneer life is going to work out for us. Our final plan is to build our own home on my Dads property.  Anthony is starting school in two weeks and is going to be starting a career in public speaking,  a far stretch from his life as a journeymen millwright but a perfect fit for him none the less. And me...where do I fit into this puzzle?  My 83 year old grandmother made sure that I knew my place was to be cook and cleaner. Which I happily accept. I have been a stay at home Mom for almost 7 years so there's always things to do. But if it were up to me and I had all those extra hands, I would want to keep chickens and bees...not together of course. I've been told that rats come with chickens. I want to bake and grow apples and fruits and preserve then in jars. I want to sell pumpkins from my pumpkin patch and have  cold cellar full of potatoes and onions from the oversized garden my Dad planted for me. I want to teach my kids about nature and how to care for and keep animals. And so begins my not so pioneer life. I hope you will join me for the ride!