Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One day a hen made a swing...

One day the weather turned mild.
(This was back in early January)

It was lovely at first.

I let the hens out of the coop to stretch their wings and 
so they could enjoy their second home (aka under the deck)

I was further down the yard, burning out a stump.

I happened to look up.

Oh man!
I thought that Pigeon, our Silver Laced Wyandotte,
had tried to fly from the deck to the coop...
and gotten stuck in the grape vine trellis!

They deal with the snow...but they don't like it.
They try to fly back and forth to avoid walking in the white stuff.
Their landings just aren't graceful at all.

As I walked over to investigate, I noticed she was rocking back and forth.
It kind of reminded me of the summer birds on our clothesline.
They look like they are having fun...more fun than just "trying to keep their balance".

And it appeared as though Pigeon was doing the same thing.

By the time I got close enough, I realized she was quite fine.
She was balanced nicely on the wire we strung to train the vines.

My how your animals can make you worry...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Picking and Storing Your Recipes

My husband is guilty.
He brings home recipes torn from everywhere.
And I know he is like all of you out there...
But, you see, he is a cook...so he has access to loads of recipes.
"This looks fun!"
"This one will taste awesome!"
"Wow looks tasty!"
The funny part is he has no intention of making these recipes.
He just hoards them.
Like I know we are all guilty of from time to time.

I don't know about you...but couldn't take it anymore.
So I have come up with a system!


First, you have to be honest.
Pick a recipe you will ACTUALLY make.
If you don't normally make meals like the one in the recipe...chances are you won't start now.
If you have never tried Indian food...don't grab a recipe first...try it in a nice safe restaurant.
THEN you know what you're shooting for 
BEFORE you shell out a ton of money on weird ingredients you may never use again.
I'm not saying you shouldn't be brave and try new things.
I'm only suggesting you bring it back to reality.

Second, price out any ingredients that you don't already have.
If you need to spend $20 on saffron and it only calls for 2 threads...pass.
If you don't already have the staples to build your recipe...
you need to ask yourself if the price of buying new ingredients is worth it.

Third, if you already have a wad of recipes flying around your house...
gather them up and try sorting through them using the above method.
You will be thinning down your mess.
You will be brutally honest about your cooking intentions.
You will get the recipe paper beast under control.
You'll feel like a superhero.
(okay...maybe not...but getting rid of piles and waste always make me feel good)

For me, I had to reel in our obsessive need to keep every recipe that ever crossed our path.
(The same method was applied to our cookbooks too.)
When I grab a recipe I like, it usually has to meet a few prerequisite standards:
1 - at least 2 foods that I grow
2 - involves pantry and fridge staples I already purchase in bulk.
3 - no more than 1 ingredient has to be newly purchased (preferably none)



So now you have some recipes.
There are probably a billion storage solutions on Pinterest right now.
Here is what I do:

I label my folders based on the main ingredient.
 I have folders like "Tomatoes", "Fish and Game", "Zucchini", "Foraging" etc.

You can use any labelling system that works for you.
For example:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks.
  • Slowcooker, Oven, Microwave
  • Pork, Beef, Fish, Veggies
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc
  • Raw, Vegetarian, Paleo, Dairy free
  • Entertaining, Home meals, Work meals

Once I make a recipe, and decide it is a hit...I move it to the BINDER.

I have a binder full of plastic page protectors.
There are magazine recipes, handwritten ones, forwarded emails from friends.
All of our beloved family favorite recipes are in the BINDER.
Now, with this system, Handsome Husband can still find the recipe for 
Gramma BJ's Johnny cake...even when I'm not at home.

I have yet to organize the BINDER itself...that will be another post for sure.

How do you store your recipes?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Home Made Granola Recipe (plus a skinny secret)

Winter is great for getting the baking bug.
As opposed to the other bugs you can catch in the winter.

Of course there are only so many loaves and muffins you can make.

So I present to you:


Here is the yummy recipe that I made basically using up all of the
items I bought to make a baked brie with dried fruit and nuts over the holidays.

I found this recipe on Yummly.com
You do have to register...it is free.
Then you have to click on a link to the original poster's blog.
Its kinda troublesome...all those extra steps...but trust me, its worth it.

This granola features dates, sweetened coconut, dried cranberries, pecans, walnuts and honey.
FYI.  I omitted the wheat germ and the sunflower seeds.
I didn't have any wheat germ on hand and the sunflower seeds I had were not shelled.


Now here is my trick!
I've always been told that granola is "too high in fats".
So I start with a cubed apple...then sprinkle granola on top.
Add milk and you have a delicious and satisfying skinny treat.
You're welcome.

PS.  By the time you are drinking the milk from the bottom of the bowl...it's sweet cinnamon milk!!!!

BONUS:  Your house smells wonderful when its baking!

What is your favorite winter smell?


This post is my 200th blog post since starting this blog in 2010.
I wanted to thank each and every one of you who reads it.
I appreciate you every day.
You drive me to create interesting content and 
life in the woods stories that leave an impression.
Stay with me folks...the ride is about to get a lot more fun!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Top Ten Foraging Posts

So I'm launching my foraging business!


I will be available for speaking engagements and tours.
You can either reserve a place in one of my home tours,
or I can come to your property 
and we'll take a look at what you have in your own backyard!
Learn about herbal first aid...
Tea making...
The list is really endless...

In honour of my new endeavour...I present to you my Top 10 posts on foraging!

10. Finding wild horseradish and how to pickle it!

9. Discovering wood sorrel and black haw...and how to make black haw squares!

8. Picking and storing wild leeks (aka ramps)!

7.  Fiddlehead soup

6.  Turn an invasive "weed" into Garlic Mustard Pesto

5.  Milkweed blossom capers

4.  Purslane in a stir fry

3.  Dandelion coffee inspired by Susanna Moodie
(an 1830's Ontario settler)

2.  Wild black raspberries

1.  My all-time, most read foraging post EVER:
Orange foxtail grass seed muffins!

SPOILER ALERT:  These seeds taste like poppy seeds!

Come join me on my other blog I EAT WEEDS for more forage-y goodness.

(don't worry...I'll still be posting here too....)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A day on the lake - Winter Edition

Here's a derrisive issue....WINTER.

Some of us Canadians hate it...
Some of us love it...

Some of us defend our right to freeze our butts off in it...

That's just how we roll.

Our buddy Blaine and his bike.

First off...we live in the Land O Lakes Region.
Check it out here.
Over 5000 lakes, pretty much in my backyard.
(My definition of back yard is fairly broad...but still.)

Second...its good for your health!
I did a post a while back on how getting outdoors 
in the winter time can be a great workout replacement!

It only took an hour to properly pack all of our gear up and head out.
There were 6 of us on this particular trip.
We packed a Thermos of hot chocolate, a few mugs of coffee and tea.
We brought a backpack that folds out into a chair.
We brought some stuff for Owen to do...in between checking lines.
All of our ice fishing and hole drilling gear.
Snacks too...and marshmallows.
A box of newspaper.

Father and son on a borrowed snow machine.

And helmets...can't go far without a helmet.

Riding with Blaine to the fishing spot.

We blazed a trail through the woods across from a relative's house.
We zipped down the frozen creek and lake.

Handsome Husband is also Handy Husband!
He shows Owen the ropes...er...lines...
They have father-son time.

He's also Hercules Husband...when it comes to hand drilling our fishing holes.
"10-12 inches of ice" he reports.


We brought some spray bottles filled with water and food colouring.
I had no idea how long they would last before they froze...
but it was only -4 degrees Celcius.

It seemed a great way to keep his attention...when watching a line for a jiggle wanes.

I scoured the shoreline for dead branches.
It seems weird to be walking along the edge of the lake...on the water side.

Owen and I explored up the steep hills to find a deer bed!
They nose up the dry leaves from under the snow.
Some of the beds showed how the heat from the animal melted the snow evenly around it.
(deer scat close by too)

We were pretty high up...but that's part of the fun!

But the best part of the day was the incredible peace that surrounded us.

Our pal Pepe, who is Uncle Pepe to Owen.
I love seeing him impart manly wisdom to our son.
I love it that Owen has such positive and positively cool men to look up to in his life.

I fix up a fire on the shoreline.
I make sure that I situate it in a safe place.

Owen takes a marshmallow break...
but the fire helps us warm cold fingers when needed.
(You can't keep your gloves on the whole time while ice fishing.)

I am so in love with the rock formations of South Frontenac County.
Takes my breath away.
I'm currently reading "Their Enduring Spirit:  the History of Frontenac Provincial Park 1783-1990"
by Christian Barber with Terry Fuchs.
I'm totally enthralled with the author's description of the geological implications.

Owen loves the rocks too..but for different reasons.

He is at his absolute best when he's outdoors.
A country boy in all his glory.

A 3lb pike!

Now that is a happy country fella!
We ate this lovely pike and gave our blessings.
We live in a glorious part of the world...where we can go out,
be in nature and bring home dinner.

How do you enjoy winter outdoors?
(if you don't do it now...you should seriously start)

If you need some help...here is a list of my favorite things about Winter!