Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Faithful companion in the kitchen.

My old friend...

My faithful companion in the kitchen, my perfect standby maiden helper, is my Betty Crocker cookbook. This was the very first cookbook I owned, and I purchased it back in 1976, the year of the Olympics in Montreal, Quebec. I felt so grown up and oh so smug joining the Doubleday book club that same year, and this cherished and beloved cookbook was one of my very first purchases, along with several Richard Scarry hardcover books for the baby I was carrying at that time.

Cookbooks galore on my shelves.

Isn’t amazing how we can acquire shelves full of cookbooks in our kitchens, and yet, we always magnate to our favorite book? I once had many cookbooks on my shelves, probably far too many in fact. Over the years I've managed to sift and sort through them all, eventually choosing to discard those that I wasn’t much at all.

Splatters and stains don't matter to us.

But, this sweet helper is my true blue pal in my kitchen. Even with all the bits of dried up batter on some of our favorite recipe pages, the stains from splatters while baking, and a taped up binding, it’s still (as Shania Twain would say) “the one”.

It’s been interesting to me to notice how often all of our children also continue to pull this very cookbook off my shelves, a preferred tutorial and a plethora of helpful photos is always awaiting them within the pages of its covers.

Our teen daughter used the cookbook to
present the family with this apple crisp for this
past Sunday's dessert feast. Complete with a
scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was delicious.

I know, I know, I’m just so not up to date in my kitchen, and yes, Betty Crocker’s modern cookbooks offer many more pages than my own copy has, however my copyright dated book continues to offer much charm and memorable moments in my kitchen, so perhaps this year I will search for a copy just like this one on eBay, just in case the day comes where this one is no longer usable with all the future chefs still residing in our home and using it to the fullest. (wink)

Monday, January 28, 2008

For the love of the game.

For the Love of the Game...

... and the value of acquiring
good sportsmanship.

"In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self sacrifice. And, finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?"

~Jesse Owens

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Looking out my window today...

Looking out my window today...

This is what I see = freshly fallen snow and icicles.


Simply Lovely Fairs 2008 submission.

Simply Lovely Fairs

As a first time participant for the "Loveliness Fairs" initiated from the folks at the 4Real Learning Forums, finally, I have mustered up enough courage to submit my first entry to the “Simply Lovely Fair”. This is the second of six predetermined topics so far this year from the “Living Lives of Loveliness 2008” .

As Elizabeth at Real Learning posted the quote below from St. Therese when announcing these "Simply Lovely Fairs", so too it is with a humble heart that I enter this submission in the hopes of possibly assisting others with the task of nurturing their families with hearty winter food fare.

"So it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord. It pleases Him to create great saints, who may be compared with lilies or the rose; but He has also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are."

~St. Therese

Without further ado, here is my submission for January 30th's entry on;What's cooking in your big pot to warm your family on those blustery winter days?

A soup making kitchen party in progress...

Suzanne over at "Blueberry Cottage" is the hostess for this fair, and I invite you to peruse through her blog that day to view other entries submitted by clicking HERE to see them all.

As the winter season in our midst chills our bones and tends to keep us nearer to a warm and cozy fireplace, or all cuddled up in a big bulky shawl, there is nothing so satisfying as a nice hot cup of soup for a main meal to satisfy our palette. Soup will be the main focus on my submission for this “Simply Lovely Fair” this week.

What better family meal in winter than
a hot cup of nutritious and home cooked soup?

Truly, the winter season offers a variety of meals not as tempting or functional in warmer weather months. We have our favorites as I’m certain your family does too. The temptation to sit and perhaps slurp broth from a spoon or from a mug containing a hearty and nutritious soup delights our senses with flavor, texture, taste and smell, and as a bonus, it warms our tummies from within. Just as a pumpkin pie belongs with a turkey dinner, so too does a nice hot bubbling soup on the stove belong to the season of winter.

As the years tumbled by from my early years of marriage, and more and more children were welcomed to increase the family fold over time, I realized so too did our family's food portions grow, obviously requiring kitchen fixings of larger meals just to feed the all the mouths at home. Over time I became more comfortable resizing to eventual use of larger pots, as soup making became one of the family's favorite and most requested winter meal. The crock pot was good, the huge soup pot was even better. Sometimes I still use a crock pot, but only after the flavors have savored for at least an extra day (see post below for more on this). Initially the soup pot offered enough for two meals at least; one for that current meal, and another was always a bonus for a mother with a busy household.

Never in my wildest dream did I ever expect to actually fill up our largest dutch oven pot for any meal along the way, the one I only used as my canning assistant in the past. It has now become the preferred cookware I grab for assembling and cooking homemade soups in our home. The bigger the pot, the more soup everyone can enjoy and if there are leftovers, a freezer ziplock becomes my best friend. I simply fill some of them up with leftovers and lay them on top of one another in the freezer for future meals, or to give to someone else needing a meal in a pinch.

The only criteria I use when a soup making feast-fixing party is in the works for me, is to remember to check the refrigerator to assure there will be a spot for the huge pot to sit overnight. There have been times when I haven’t, much to the chagrin of others around here (lol).

Our married children and even our parents were always offered a share of the pot (wink) if they happened to visit while the soup was in its final stages of brewing. Everyone knew when mom was in a soup mood, and everyone knew they could share the feast with us in some way, anytime they were around to share it with us. However when we moved east, several of the married children requested a tutorial from me so they could reap the rewards of a hearty soup making within their own homes.

Helpful hint! I want to mention a time saver possibility, one I used to do frequently for my small babies or young child. Choose a soup with all the safe (allergy free?) ingredients your young child can eat, ones he/she has already been introduced to, and when the soup cools, fill up ice cube trays with soup portions for future consumption. Once the icy soup chunks are firm and frozen in the ice cube trays, quickly transfer them all into a freezer bag, taking and warming only enough in a small pan, on low heat when desired for an instant home cooked and nutritious meal in a jiffy. It's far more economical and much more nutritious to do this prior freezer cooking for your young children yourself at home as opposed to having to rely on prepared food from the store.

Therefore without further ado, may I present to you all a few links to my tutorials of;

"Soup making 101"

My first tutorial for our older children was posted with step by step directions for making a cream of "Brussel sprout soup". ( Just for the record - I have a great disdain for this vegetable, however this is a yummy soup everyone loves and substitutes are plentiful for this particular recipe with great success) You can find the post HERE

Soup tutorial for making a "Vegetable and Lentil soup" posted. You can find directions HERE.

Soup tutorial for making "Cream of Cauliflower" (or any other hard vegetable soup) found HERE, or take a looksy at the soup making variation with a twist on the same type of soup found HERE.

A recent kettle of soup our family just seems to inhale for a "Turkey Noodle" can be found HERE.

As as always, there are other glimpses in my soup kettle found on the right side bar of my blog from the "In The Kitchen" link.

Enjoy and as always, let me know how you do with the tutorials.

If you are entertaining the idea of following the other “Simply Loving Fair” lineup for other topics to come, you can check them out HERE.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Speaking of "flowers"....

Hello baby Jacinta..

I'm your Nana!

In the past, it was usually I who got the telephone call, one where I was being summoned to hurry over to watch the other younger children when a new baby entered into this young couple’s fold.

However, the only telephone call we were to receive with this recent little grandbaby blessing, was the announcement of labor at hand and the news of the subsequent birth of "Jacinta Marie". Words cannot express what incredible and cheery news this was for all of us in the east, literally lifting up our hearts, while other heartaches were seemingly wrapped around the same timing this birth day.

I will be bold and admit here that indeed it was great relief all went well with the birthing, after previous complications could've prevented such a happy occasion and end result. When the cheerful news rang in, I was out driving at the time, and the cell phone rang with my hubby filling me in with the news. It filled me with a deep and heartfelt joy, so much so, I cried and almost had to pull over to the shoulder of the road for a moment to recover.

Having to rely on the telephone call as a messenger vessel was very difficult, leaving us all on edge. I'm obviously very fine now since that day, especially now that I've met this little bundle of great joy!

mommy and baby

Since then, six weeks had passed and other than a few photos, we hadn’t yet been able to meet face to face. Nana here (moi) was beginning to grow tired of waiting, and I was beginning to experience itchy feet. Naturally it became a part of my impulsive nature to hurry up and fly over to meet and greet her.

daddy and baby

  • I wanted to “smell” that baby smell wee ones emitted into their cuddles.
  • I wanted to kiss her wee cherub cheeks and tell her she is beautiful.
  • I wanted her to know my voice, however possible that might be.
  • I wanted her to know who I was, her very happy Nana.
  • I wanted to see the little family now complete with baby in their midst. And I did.

We chose to keep our trip west a secret for various reasons. When I called our son’s home and asked what they were busy doing that one evening when I had arrived, he answered he was hanging around, tired after a long day of work, holding baby, and everyone else was winding down for the day after the dinner hour. He wasn’t expecting me to announce I’d be right over in about ten minutes and asked where I was, still not cluing in of course. I think he still didn’t realize what I was saying when I mentioned I really was in town. Alas, it all clicked and my young daughter and I headed to their home. They in turn, chose to keep our visit a secret from their other children, so what fun we had knocking on the door and seeing the reaction from everyone.

Knock, Knock...who's there?
She's visiting her older brother and his family, and so am I.

Where was she? I had to see her right away!

My proud son was beaming, so happy to see his mother and obviously thrilled to show off his new “flower” within his quiver. In turn, I was equally pleased to meet her at long last, and face to face too.

Jacinta’s eight year old Auntie loved every minute of her visit with her many nieces and nephews. She was a real trooper considering she only had knowledge of this trip the evening before we left, shortly after the dinner hour. Her suitcase was packed, she just needed to get some sleep and we'd be flying west in approximately eight hours from her bed time. So surprised, she wasn't really prepared, but then, it was such a delight to watch her blossom with the privilege of traveling with mommy alone.

She just loves spending time with her nieces and nephews!

A few of the nieces/nephews here warming up with a hot beverage after a day outdoors in the snow. Yes, it snowed in Vancouver, but not the nice snow we encounter in the east, rather a wet and cold to the bone kind of snow instead.

Warming up our soccer player in the center here.

Yikes! One of our grand-daughters played soccer in that horrible weather and she was soaking wet! Warming up was a good thing.

Twins? Same outfits never worn at the same time before.

All of the stolen moments once our arrival was announced, had everyone scurrying about, and we tried to spend as much time as allowable visiting all our grown children and their families as best we could. Time though was indeed a factor, never long enough for sure.

And for our youngest daughter, our visit also included time spent hanging around with her older siblings, though I must admit much of those stolen moments offered me no desire to capture enough photos, so these will have to suffice. It's here I realize many people within our family were missing from the photos I ended up with, so sorry everyone. Mom dropped the ball...

Oldest and youngest daughters together with mommy.

My oldest brother and his wife.

Another older sister to surprise.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hearty Congratulations!

Hearty Congrats!!!

My friend Karina just sent this photo to me, with a message held within. I thought it was brilliant Josh to do the announcement this way....and we are all thrilled to see/find this lovely surprise in our inbox today.

Baby news is always good news!!!

Congratulations to you and all your "flowers", can't wait until September!


Up, Up, and Away!

Up! Up! And Away!

My youngest daughter accompanied me on my westbound flight where several issues awaited our surprise arrival, some expected, some not. The most joyful goal was to meet our new grand-daughter, little Jacinta Marie.

As we flew into the wild blue yonder, we felt incredibly blessed watching a dismal morning become radiant as the sun began to rise and greet us this day, eventually filling the skies with shades so blue, truly the heavens were beckoning us forward to our final destination with an artist's color palette to delight in. What wonderful hues of blue surrounding us up in the skies, and yet when glancing below, white billowy pillow clouds looked like a pool of cotton balls without gaps in between to view anything below them or know they were not the terra ferma ground underneath.

White clouds so fluffy and billowy were all we could see below.

Mountain peaks filled with snow between sky and cloud.

Dead center between sky and clouds nearer to our destination, were the Rocky Mountains, well, at least the snowy peaks rising above those white puffy clouds.

I have to admit the scenery was breathtaking!

With a sudden thought, I reached for my camera in my carry on bag beneath the seat in front of me, knowing how spectacular it was to view such a sight that I must snap photos. However, these photos do not do the exact scene any justice.

View from our window.

Mount Baker came into full view.

I followed those mountains far and wide until I saw it... Mount Baker, the local inactive volcano known for fabulous skiing in winter, great hiking in summer and the crater dome at the top of its glorious height. Here it was in its grandest splendor, and I was there snapping photos for you to see.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday!

It began this week..
and continues for 8-12 weeks.

Thrift store adventures

My Thrift Store Adventures

As anyone who is either related or associated with me knows, I love thrift stores and I’m known to divert routes within a moment’s notice to hit a great looking garage sale! Yes, my poor hubby doesn’t enjoy the sport of “sailing”, garage sailing that is, or thrift sailing, or didn’t until I found brand new hockey equipment almost eight years ago when he was with me, and I insisted he stopped the vehicle….for just a moment (wink). He was greatly impressed to be exact, and excited!

The journey into thrift store delights was just that – a journey. I used to hate entering into them when I was younger before marrying, for it was then my own mother used to take me with her during her own thrift store pursuits. To me, the places just reeked of moth balls and all things cedar…snicker. Later on in my life, I found one near me without the long remembered scent, and I was hooked.

Thrift stores are all so unique. The one I used to frequent held an adventurous promenade through its aisles week after week, mostly when I was already in the area that is when I would happen to pop by. The parking lot was small, so if there was a parking space to fill, it became my cue to browse. And browse I did!

Often such excursions held much surprise for me as I wondered what would be there for me each time I entered the doors. To my delight, our huge lego, playmobil and wooden block collections became larger with special finds in plastic bags, those filled with those desired items. The children used to know their first stop was to a certain area, to find whatever it was the family was collecting during that time, and often they would squeal with a few animal duplos, wee collectible Madame Alexander dolls they didn’t have, wooden blocks to make Russian turrets on their buildings for great architectural finds, small finds for the dollhouse, and whatever filled the current interest. The older children enjoyed perusing for games, sport equipment, movies, and once the shopping bug really hit, new clothing. It became a mother and children activity, and everyone was on board with the fun, except for…guess who? (though he liked what we found!)

Always a book lover, I would peruse the book stacks, and eventually I would learn how to tell which were not only old and valuable, but also which were worth collecting, and which I could purchase for “a song” and resell on EBay for a small fortune compared to the cost. It was then my book selling business really developed, and with it allowed for the sole financial ability for many things when my hubby became very ill, needing much time off his work. I loved the diversity of this business, though it was often time consuming, and the “finds” and “treasures” I was able to gather have long since filled our own family library with abundance. If you have not read about our family library, you can find out all about it HERE.

Moving east I think one of the things we all miss the most (other than our families) was our frequent visits to our preferred thrift store, believe it or not. I have yet to find one equally delightful, though I’ve often peaked into new ones here and there.

This past week I decided to give one in town another chance, and bingo, I was blessed with a few lovely finds, and here they are;

A Creative Memories 7x7 special edition album.

No pages are present, but who cares. Price? 99 cents, a savings of well over thirty dollars.

Creative Memories lifetime warranty is always a bonus.

A very small flower press for little hands - 99 cents

A brand new and unsealed box of stationary - 1.99

The treasure above was worth the browse, and one more item not shown was the addition of a lovely vase for 49 cents. I may have to stop by more often, and I'll keep you in touch when I hit the jackpot anytime again.

Pure Bliss!

Pure Bliss!

When daily living affords a few moments, what can be more wonderful than sitting for a spell with a cup of tea and a favorite magazine?

How about an English scone to complete the teatime pleasures ? The following recipe is my all time favorite, one I’ve used for almost 25 years.

English Cream Scones

2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup butter (not margarine!)
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk, cream, (or water if you have none)

This recipe is so easy and so quick to make. Just grab your largest bowl and forget using a mixmaster on this one for an easier clean up. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until mealy. Reserve one egg white. Beat the rest of the eggs together in a bowl. Stir the milk into the egg mix. Make a well in the dry ingredients center stirring vigorously until dough comes free from the side of the bowl. Here is the gross part, I usually use my hands at this point. Pat to a ¾ inch thickness. Cut in circles or squares if preferred after rolling out on a countertop, but here’s my super easy tip, I just drop spoonfuls of batter onto a greased cookie sheet and form a bit to make a nice shaped scone. They are consumed far too quickly around here to fuss too much over them anyhow, unless we are having company and the children prefer they look more formal for serving with jam and whipping cream. Yum!

Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Variations; Add a cup of grated cheddar cheese, some chopped up apple, or whatever your addition pleasure might be. I’ve also used yogurts with success instead of milk, or applesauce.

Enjoy and let me know how you do.