Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Sugar Bush

The sap is running.

Which means maple syrup.

It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

That's a lot of trees that need tapping.

This sugar bush has approx. 6000 taps on 80 acres.  They hope to produce 1000 gallons of maple syrup this season.

You Baby Me Mummy P52 Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent Weakley

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Embracing Routine, and Braised Cabbage

Instagram lately.

Airing out stinky hockey equipment.
Swedish meatballs at IKEA.
A quick trip to Muskoka, where there's still plenty of snow.
Our kitchen, turned into a barbeque assembly area.
Wii, rediscovered.

I'm grateful that we made the time for a quick road trip last weekend.  Things have been so routine around here, and although I try to appreciate all of the moments that make up our everyday lives, I desperately needed a changed of scenery.

We celebrated another hockey tournament championship.

Number one son decided to make a birthday cake for his girlfriend.  The recipe he chose wasn't a simple one, and a two hour education followed.

Lessons learned:

Unhusked hazelnuts do NOT have the husk removed.  
Hazelnuts are also known as filberts.  
Husks are not easily removed with a vegetable peeler.  
Toasting nuts removes most of the husks with minimal effort.
Hazelnut paste is not Nutella.
Heavy cream is whipping cream, not the table cream I use in my coffee.
The toothpick will never come out completely clean.
Icing a cake with mousse is a pain in the a**.
Mom needs a new stand mixer.

We ate Irish food in honour of St. Patrick.  The kids thought the corned beef tasted like ham, so the ham-haters in the house weren't impressed.  I've never made this before, so I just used the pre-seasoned, packaged brisket from the grocery store.  Next time I think I'll try making a more authentic one from scratch.

Surprisingly, the braised cabbage was a hit.  Until now, I had never even so much as bought a cabbage, unless you count the pre-shredded coleslaw mix.  Growing up, I couldn't stand it.  If cabbage rolls or sauerkraut appeared on my plate, you could bet I'd be at the table for a very long time trying to find ways to avoid eating.  I didn't much like the smell while I was slicing it, but once it started to simmer the smell was amazing.  One of the kids thought it tasted like onion rings.

I will be making this again.

Braised Cabbage


2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One half of large head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 bottle beer
Red pepper flakes, optional


In a large pan, melt butter and bacon fat. Add the onion, bay leaf, and cabbage, stirring to mix. Add the beer, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Braise until the cabbage has wilted, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, sprinkle with red pepper flakes (optional) and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Same old, same old

It seems to be my standard response these days.  How's things?  Same old, same old.

Same old weather.  

Same old job.

Same old hockey.  Honestly I love it, but I'm ready for a break from the rink.

Same old packed lunches.

Same old dinners. "Ugh...all we eat is chicken"

Same old laundry.

Number one son and his girlfriend went to Mexico for their reading week holiday, and they had a wonderful trip.  I think that's what I need.  Sunshine and sandy beaches.  

I've been reading:

And discovering:

How to add protein and healthy fat to our smoothies, because we use our blender for smoothies almost every day.

Amazing sculptures, made with recycled farm equipment.

Italian Meatloaf, another recipe to add to 'must try' pile.

March 14 is pi day.  This video demonstrates the pythagorean theory in a really cool way.

Did you know that apple seeds are poisonous?  Along with a few other fruit seeds, yikes.

And, how much sleep do you really need?  Surprise, surprise...I'm not getting enough.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


The world is white.  And I’m not talking about the snow.  We’re living in a world of salt.  It covers the roads and sidewalks.  The cars are coated in a gritty layer of it, inside and out, where it rubs onto coats and pants, so that we walk around wearing it.  We bring it into the house on our boots.  There’s no escaping it.  I thought about going through the car wash the other day, but with -35°C temps outside I decided that I didn’t want to risk freezing the doors shut.

This is winter.  The cold, the snow, and the salt, and all things white.

And when we're dealing with extreme cold outside, there's a lot of this going on inside.

Instagram lately.  There's a lot of food happening.  Along with some hockey, a boreal forest diorama, and a frozen lake.

I feel like I've been in hibernation mode.  I guess that's winter.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Sloppy Joes

So, I made Sloppy Joes over the weekend.  And they were amazing.  I can’t remember the last time I made them.  I seem to recall they weren’t very good, and there was much moaning and groaning and scraping of uneaten food into the garbage.  Last week, out of the blue, one of the kids asked me to make Sloppy Joes for dinner. 

Hmmm, OK.

Comfort food is what we need when the temps are plummeting to -30°C outside.

I searched recipes until I settled on the Pioneer Woman’s version.  I had all of the ingredients and her recipes haven’t failed me yet.

I was tempted to skip the green pepper, because no one really likes it, but decided instead to chop the green pepper very fine, so as to make it barely visible.  I think it adds necessary flavour, so a small dice allowed me to sneak some green pepper past my kids.  I added celery because I had some that needed to be used up, and because I can't seem to follow a recipe without straying from it.

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  I used an entire can, because I clearly wasn't paying attention.  The end result wasn’t overly tomato-y, and it was just so incredibly good that I’ve left the one can of tomato paste in the ingredient list.  Added bonus: no half-used can of tomato paste lurking in the fridge becoming a science experiment.

This combination of ingredients and spices made the best Sloppy Joes I have ever eaten, perfectly sweet and spicy, and not too saucy.

Sloppy Joes


3 pounds extra lean ground beef
1 whole medium/large onion, diced
1 whole large green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Kaiser Rolls, lightly toasted


Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until brown, breaking up large pieces while stirring. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft.

Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Lightly toasting the buns prevented them from getting soggy as soon as the meat mixture was ladled on.  If your toaster has a bagel setting, use it.  It will only toast the insides of the buns.

Some of the kids chose to add shredded cheese, lettuce, and extra hot sauce… but I thought they were perfect just as is.

This served all eight of us, with leftovers to snack on the next day.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls

Short days, long nights, bulky sweaters, and slow cookers.  This time of year feels heavy, with it's extra layers, warm blankets, and sturdy boots.  Winter is about comfort foods.  Substantial soups, hearty stews, and casseroles.  And Taco Chicken Bowls.

Our Crock Pot is seeing so much use, that it's taken up permanent residence on the kitchen counter.  It will likely find it's way back into a cupboard in a few month's time, but for now it's front and centre in the kitchen.

These Taco Chicken Bowls are a favourite in our house.  I was inspired by this recipe.  I've tweaked the spices slightly and used more beans.  Sometimes I'll add an extra chicken breast if I want to ensure leftovers for lunch the next day. 

Have you ever made your own tortilla shells?  I used this recipe.

Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large jar salsa
2 cans black beans
½ lb (8 oz) frozen corn
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
½ - 1 tsp chili pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
½ tsp ground pepper
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup water

Add everything to the crock pot, stir well, making sure chicken is covered.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Roughly chop or shred chicken before serving.

Serve over cooked rice with sour cream, shredded cheddar and avocado.  Or try it with quinoa...or wrap it all up in a tortilla shell!

Thank you for featuring me!

featured200x200 Ms. enPlace

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Happy New Year

Well hello there.  Happy New Year.  

I am just now emerging from the madness that was December.

Shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and getting it all done at the last possible minute.

Meals and snacks merged, and became all day food.

Despite the stress and excess that overshadows Christmas, there was cherished family time.

And some much needed time away from work, school, and hockey.

I am desperately feeling the push and pull of time.  The change in seasons and another new year brings on a familiar melancholy.  

Pushing forward, while wistfully looking back.

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