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. ( 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!