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.'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!