Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer of Food: Chocolate Mousse

When we first moved out to the country, one of the seemingly massive perks was farm fresh eggs- but not until these latest eggs have we become real egg people. They're really nice eggs, the hens are fed flax so they're higher in omega 3's and until we get our own layers- this is the next best thing. They have nice 'body' if you will - not thin measly little whites, and they taste great.

This Chocolate Mousse Recipe is the best- Last time I made it I used Dark Chocolate- this time I used Milk Chocolate, maybe next time will be white chocolate...we'll see.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Ethnic Furniture

Over the last couple of Weeks K and I have had a few chances to see some really fantastic Ethnic Furniture collections. One was pretty exclusively Doukhobor, and really really refined beautiful stuff, another collection was on display at a Mennonite house barn museum in southern Mb.- in which a few of our chairs (which are possibly Mennonite), and a sweet little carding bench of ours made an appearance. The furniture we collect is not quite museum quality (this stuff can get expensive) but it's all handmade- and after a few envious days of looking at collections that we will never ever be able to put together- we figured out what it is that drew us to this furniture in the first place.

The people who built it had nothing- not even the money to buy good quality wood- a lot-if not all of our furniture was made out of second rate wood- apple crates-2 x 4's, old doors you name it- but the person who made it knew what they were doing- they wood pegged it, dovetailed, scalloped, made rounded drawers, they had nothing but skills. And we love that- it's a reminder of the people who were hardy enough to survive out here in Manitoba; the immigrants who settled out here, who, despite their serious lack of goods made the best stuff with what they had.

There's lots of old furniture out there that isn't so well made, it's true, but when you come across the stuff that is well done, it's priceless. ( not literally priceless, mind you, wouldn't that be grand if it was?)

( more photos of our furniture here)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sling Baby

Right before Nora and I went out west, I ordered some Sling Rings, in the hopes of making myself a slick new sling with some silk I had around. I have a hand-me-down ring sling that has worked great, but it's got padded 'rails', and a big padded shoulder which make it comfy-but bulky. Luckily for me the rings came the day before I left town.

I used these instructions (though it's essentially just a hemmed piece of fabric sewn through rings at one end, the pleats make it pretty), which were fairly comprehensive, and easy to follow- it was a fast project- though the tail on mine had to be shortened a bit She says you can make it with a 2.5 metre length of fabric if you'd like a long tail- but for me- that long of a tail was almost hitting the ground- and I'm tall, so 2 metres was good enough, the tail was still plenty long.

It was a great thing to have while travelling, small in my purse, but Nora lived in it most days, I wore her everywhere- shopping, parks, dinner- It also doubled as a good nursing shield, and held her snug to me on the plane, so I could read while she snoozed. It was also very comfortable, I could wear her all day long and not be sore, it's a great thing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home

It's funny how a trip away always makes me appreciate home. I love visiting the big city- but really I'm a country girl at heart, glad to be back in my little quiet corner of the world.

And if there weren't giant hordes of mosquitoes outside ready to lift off with my child, I'd be out weeding right now- but darn it, five inches of rain while we were away has revitalized their population, and it's wild out there. I've got to research some bug spray I guess.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer of Food: Shitake Mushrooms

When my In-Laws lived here- they started a Shitake Mushroom, well, farm I guess is the best way to describe it. They bought the inoculum and put it inside oak logs- then irrigate them and the logs produce mushrooms- it's all very simple. These logs were started a while ago and they seem to be petering out. Nevertheless we found a few last time and they were delicious, I made up acream sauce for them- it would have been awesome with Bacon, but it was good without any meat too, always a bonus.

I used this recipe, with a few alterations- Milk instead of sour cream, and Ham broth for Dry Sherry.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Organic flea beetle control

My garden is all in now, it took quite a while- but it's done and just in time- we kept on having rainy days with a couple of sunny days thrown into the mix-but never consecutively. Eventually though I got it all done, now it's just waiting for everything to grow up, before I can start weeding.

The garden space is lovely but there are a few challenges we'll have to overcome- surprisingly the Deer that roam freely around here that we expected to have to beat off with sticks haven't come around yet, but It's too soon to write it off as an issue. The wind has been harsh these past few days though, so some things are looking a little beaten- we'll have to see about a small windbreak.

The biggest thing so far has been the flea beetles- not so many of them I thought at first and went in to consult my gardening books, but forgot in the flurry of bath and bedtime, and when I got back out there the next day- the Broccoli and Allysum were dead- all of it looking dry and grey and like it had been shot with bird shot. I looked around online and found that flea beetle will respond to garlic sprays, so I mixed up a batch of 'Garlic Fire Spray' from this recipe. So far it seems to have stopped the damage on my cauliflower and cabbage- hopefully it will hold off the beetles until the plants get bigger- or until another tastier crop (like canola) is ready for them to munch.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Last week we stumbled across a documentary on t.v. about epigenetics- I'm far from understanding all the molecular biology aspects- but the gist of it is that environmental factors can affect your genes in such a way so that they have an effect on your grandchildren. Which seems far fetched until you really think about it. In the show they were talking about the eating habits of grandparents at the time that they were producing sperm or eggs, and how that caused the quality of their sperm or eggs to be altered which causes the effect in their children (they were linking nutritional defences to diabetes in later generations)

In the Hundered Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald- he's talking about the same type of thing except he's focusing on chemical exposure and their lasting effect on the human species. Any chemicals that I was exposed to while pregnant with N will affect her- but also since she is a girl- any chemical I was exposed to while pregnant will affect her eggs because the exposure occurred while they were being formed, and therefore it will affect my grandchildren too. For men the prime time for exposure is before puberty, when they develop sperm.

The really scary thing that the documentary pointed out was that the changes that they noticed in the offspring of lab animals who were exposed to chemicals weren't limited to one generation- the effects were passed on in different ways, indefinitely. Which means any exposure to chemicals is not only affecting us, but our entire line of descendants. Frightening stuff, it kind of puts a new impact on our attitude towards drugs and synthetics, because in a way we don't really own our genes- we just lease them. I know lots of people who expose themselvs to harmful things (myself included) with the mind-set that they're only hurting themselves, but apparantly that just isn't so.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer of Food: Rhubarb

Each Tuesday this summer I'm going to be posting about food, the Summer of Food was started by Angela over at The Artist The Mom. The idea is to showcase local, seasonal food, and I'm going to do my best, though it can be hard up north this early in the summer.

Rhubarb is one of my favorite seasonal fruits (err... I think it's technically a vegetable) It's one flavour that isn't available fresh all year long, at least not in my neck of the woods. It's always tasted like summer to me- we used to have a plant in our backyard when I was growing up and my mom would give us a bowl of sugar to dip it into as we crunched down the tart stalks. It was one of the first times I realized that you could grow food- not just buy it at the store, and I relished that secret even back then- it seemed kind of rebellious or something.

Rhubarb is a staple in Manitoba gardens, most everyone has a plant- the one we inherited is tiny though- so I usually try to beg some from a neighbour to freeze, or I mix it with Strawberries to make a fruit crisp. So simple it's a staple dessert for me- I don't even really have a recipe, I just wing it and add whatever fruit I've got on hand- and finish with Ice Cream, vanilla of course.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

6-8 stalks Rhubarb, chopped (mine were small, if yours were big then you probably only need 2-3)
about 2 cups Strawberries- rinsed and sliced
1 tbsp. Flour
1 tbsp. sugar (optional)
1 tsp. ground spice- cinnamon is standard, but ginger is nice with Rhubarb.

toss the fruit with flour and sugar and spice, in an ovenproof dish- (8 x 8, pyrex works nicely)

1/2 c. flour (whole wheat works well here)
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. rolled or quick oats
1/2 c. Butter- the softer the better.
1/2 tsp. salt

put the crumb topping over the fruit and place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 min.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest, oil on canvas, 1903. (source)

Gustav Klimt, Garden Path with Chickens, Oil on canvas, 1916. (source)

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, Oil & Gold on canvas. (source)

I find Klimt's range of images really staggering, as well as his definite style, that somehow manages to persist even if he's painting a representative portrait. His landscapes are intriguing me right now, they feel like interior spaces to me- intimate- which is the antithesis to the usual prairie landscape that I'm immersed in. I would love to capture that intimate feel within the vastness of the prairies.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Saturday!

These butterflies are everywhere in our yard- these pictures are from the long weekend when my niece and I discovered three of them on the Lilacs, she stood guard while I ran for the camera, They're called Red Admirals-while searching for them I found this website, which is very cool if you live in Manitoba, and want to find out more about the wildlife.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

I've been picking up books at the local value village for a little while now- it's a bit of a routine- I buy some kind of light trash-esque paperbacks (or sorry- did I say trash-esque? I meant Chick Lit. Oh how I hate that phrase, but guiltily love the genre.), then I also buy some proper literature books- Edith Wharton, Timothy Findlay, Margaret Atwood etc.- to ease the guilt a bit. (I'll take turns reading 'fun' books and 'serious' books- though truthfully I think they're all fun)

Lately though I've been running into another genre- food literature- I've picked up Micheal Pollan's The omnivore's Dilemma, Last chance to Eat by Gina Mallet and some other frightening books about chemicals and organics and food. All of the books are in top shape and have highlighted selections- so I can only assume that they are textbooks. The other day I confirmed it when I saw two bonafide textbooks about food politics. I've been enjoying these books immensely, and they've been really reinforcing just how important it is to re-vamp the way we eat.

I'll be sure to keep you posted on my reactions to the latest such book- The Hundred Year Lie- It focuses on chemicals and drugs, and toxins, and it's my punishment for reading(and enjoying) a book by Sophia Kinsella of the Shop-aholic book series.

What's your 'guilty' book genre?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Small Change- June

I've decided to join in the one small change challenge hosted by Hip Mountain Mama. The premise is simple- every month choose one small thing to change about your life that will positively affect the environment, the idea being that by changing one small thing at a time we can make a bigger impact more easily.

So my June change is going to be no more Paper Towels, I plan to make up some cloth towels, from re-purposed fabric that we can use as we would the disposable kind, mopping up floor spills or other things that the tea towels are just not up to. I'm already washing diapers and wipes, so what's one more thing to launder right?

I'll let you guys know how it goes, I expect that my honey will be hard to convert, as he's used to having them and will specifically ask for them if I'm shopping- (also I'm much more okay with using hand towels on the floor to clean up big messes, what can I say? he's the neat one), but we'll see if the cloth replacements can live up to paper.

Any other ideas for small changes?

Lemon Cake

I tried out this recipe for lemon almond cake the other day. It's a low calorie cake- which I thought might be good, and I had a few lemons kicking around (plus I like the novelty of boiling lemons whole and pureeing them, then using them like applesauce in cakes).

But it wasn't very good- the lemons were slightly bitter- I think If I boiled it in a simple syrup it would maybe solve that- but it would also probably no longer be low calorie, so really what's the point? It was passable- but I don't think I'll make it again, it did look pretty though.

This cake plate is an auction find that we spent the day waiting for. The auctioneer waited till the bitter end to sell it, but I was so in love with it we waited, It was worth it though, I love how fierce the lions' look.