It's been interesting watching people's reaction to the "big news" and it has made me realize just how different men are to women. It has been made even more evident discussing the reception plans with my husband and married son. The males are totally unfazed with the daunting task of putting a wedding together in just seven short weeks. They believe that seven weeks is more than ample time. Here is my idea of of a wedding planned by a (straight) guy. In other words, my husband.

Invitations= just call everybody on the phone, it's free and a whole lot easier. If you want to get fancy, email them.

Dinner= KFC, everybody loves that stuff.

Drinks= buy a few cases of soda, saves on glasses.

China= paper plates, no cleanup

Flatware= plastic cutlery, it comes in white, perfect wedding colour.

Decorations= what are those?

Wedding dress= Wear your mother's, she WAS your size when I married her. I'm sure it will fit.

Venue= We can clean out the garage. No one will notice the oil stains.

This is why my husband will not be involved in any of the reception plans. I will smile politely at his suggestions, ask for the check book, and roll my eyes heavenward as I walk away. Perhaps this was his plan all along.

I was clicking through the archives over at Fat Free Vegan (in my humble opinion, one of the two best vegan blogs on teh interwebz) and found Susan's recipe for pav bhaji. Admittedly, I had no idea what pav bhaji was, I just knew that it looked delicious.

A quick google/wikipedia search concluded that pav bhaji is the Indian response to the Big Mac. A "fast-food" available in metropolitan areas of India, for our purposes pav bhaji can be considered a curry-on-a-bun (although I haven't a clue how accurate this is - could just be my ethnocentrism assuming the filling can be labelled a curry).

Can I just take a minute to give props to India, where decent vegetarian fast food isn't just a dream, it's a reality? Be advised though, if you happen to be hanging out in metropolitan India, that while the majority of pav bhaji are vegetarian, not all are vegan. Butter, yogurt and cheese can sometimes be included among the ingredients.

If you aren't heading to India anytime soon, you can very easily make pav bhaji on your own stove (see Susan's blog for details). It will more than help hit your daily veggie quota (potatoes, green beans, bell pepper, peas, carrots, garlic, onions, cauliflower). It also may require a trip to your local Indian grocer to find pav bhaji masala and red chili powder. While you're there, explore the aisles because everytime I visit I always seem to find something new to add to our kitchen repertoire.

And yes, those are totally whole wheat hot dog buns being used as "pavs". I guess I lose points for lacking authenticity?

The only issue that we had with this is that I thought I'd be adventurous and put a little too much fresh chili pepper in. And it happened to be on a day that it was a sweltering 32C, so we were pretty much on fire for the remainder of the evening. As a result I think I'll save this recipe for the fall and winter months.


When I got to church this morning, the bishop asked if he could make the announcement from the pulpit. I told him no (shocked look on his face) and then proceeded to explain that I wanted to have some fun in Relief Society (women's organization of our church) with the big news. It was my turn to conduct the meeting so here's how it all went down.

Me: I don't believe there are any announcements this week. Oh, wait a minute, a date's been set for our annual picnic. Betty, do you know the date of that?
Betty(taking the bait): It's on August 6th.
Me: That's right, August 6th at Champlain Park. Hey, I've just realized that's the day before Nathan comes home from his mission ( collective oohs and aahs) (pause) and it's also a week before Brittany gets married. ( I grin)
At this point there are some confused looks and even a few chuckles
Me: I'm not joking.
Audette: What?
Me: Brittany's getting married and I'm not joking (still grinning)
Audette: What?????
Me: Ben got down on one knee Friday night and asked her.
(Some excited chatter follows)
Me: We'll begin our music appreciation portion now.
Darlene: Is this guy a returned missionary?
Me: Yes
Sylvie: Oh so you really aren't joking. (looking really confused)
Me: Nope
(at this point I am bombarded with questions)

It was almost too much fun.

Surprisingly, the question I have been asked most since the big announcement is how do Daniel and Olivia feel about it? For those of you that aren't aware, our son Daniel is getting married two weeks after Brittany. His wedding however has been months in the planning (they got engaged just before Christmas). Before Brittany and Ben set the date, they called Daniel and Olivia first to ask how they would feel about it. Here's the scoop. Both Daniel and Olivia are thrilled and happy for Brittany and had no problem with the date whatsoever. So rest assured people, there are nothing but good feelings between them all.
I think my son is the sweetest ever and his bride to be is perfect. Thanks Daniel and Olivia, you two are the greatest.


Ben got down on one knee last night and proposed to our only daughter Brittany (and we didn't even have to pay him). We couldn't be more thrilled about this wonderful announcement. We knew it was coming but what I wasn't prepared for was the challenge to plan a wedding in a little over seven weeks. I believe we are in for a fun ride. I have great friends who have rallied round and offered their help so I think everything is going to be just fine. Oh and the best news of all... Brittany who has always predicted that she would be a definite bridezilla, has so far been very compliant and practical. Way to go Britt.

Beautiful Day

Couldn't ask for a nicer day.

The weather was good, wind was calm, caught a good number of fish, hung laundry on the line and done everything early.

Boys have already been swimming at our shore. I think it is way to cold yet but they are trying to convince me it is okay once you are in. I usually wait for a couple of more weeks.

One more day of school.

Andrew is on his way to Dufferin market tomorrow. We should be at the markets this Saturday. I have fish in the brines soaking for the night and plan on putting them on first thing tomorrow. Friday's weather sounds like it will hold so we should have fresh fish on the weekend.

Wiarton Airport is having the band Tragically Hip playing Saturday and we will have interesting traffic issues in our neighbourhood. I am sure the show would be great but Wiarton isn't use to that amount of excitement.

I think summer is here.

The calendar switched over to summer and all of a sudden mother nature cranked up the thermostat. It has been ridiculously hot and humid here this week (not that I'm complaining...well, maybe just a little, because the humidity does horrible things to my hair).

And, when the temperature is 30C with a humidex of 37C the last thing I am going to be doing is turning on the oven or stove.

This means that I turn to the barbeque on especially hot and sticky nights...and really, nothing is quite so lovely as ending a long summer day at work with a barbequed dinner on the patio.

I have no idea why I never thought of grilling tofu before. It seriously never even entered my mind until I saw a post on Vegan Dad's blog. This recipe uses his sweet and sticky bbq sauce recipe, made from scratch (omg, you will never reach for the bottle again!) and is frozen for at least day.

In general, I'm not that big on tofu. I usually prefer tempeh because it is more firm and less "squirmy", for lack of a better word. However, freezing tofu prior to use gives it more of a firm quality and a spongy texture that, when thrown on the grill, is reminiscent of meat - making it great for convincing omnis of the awesomeness that is veganism.

The recipe for the potato salad came from Nava Atlas' Vegan Express. I've never really been able to get on board with cold potato salads, so when I saw this recipe (served warm, but not hot) I thought it might do the trick. And it gave me a reason to use up some of the parsley I have growing in the garden, which is all but fried from the heat.

Paul announced that this is his new favourite meal (sorry polenta and tofurky sausage, you have been demoted!). As you can see, we each ate about four people's worth of food because we just couldn't get enough. I can't wait to use grilled tofu instead of fake meat the next time I make my un-chicken un-caesar, which should be soon as the lettuce in my garden is just about ready to be picked!

P.S. I would like to thank my great friend Rhian for plugging This is Vegan on her blog, There is Purpose and welcome any new readers...any friend of Rhian's is a friend of mine! I also urge you to check out her blog. She is a certified life coach and offers thoughts and guidance regarding total body and soul wellness. Check her out!
We had a visitor last night. Actually, we are being over-run by skunks this year. Colin has already "asked" a few to leave. They must be nearly blind because they have run/walked into Colin a number of times and don't seem to know he's there.

We've been leaving this little guy alone. He's so cute! About the size of a large kitten/small house cat. And his tail is soooo white, guess he hasn't got it dirty yet :) He's about 35 feet from the house, over where we used to have the pool. He started much closer to the house, about 20 feet from the front door. The blackbirds were bothering him, I was watching to see if I would have to shut the door. He's getting to the age where he's going to spray something that bothers him. I'm hoping he moves along soon and doesn't have to be removed.

This will likely be my last post until Sunday at least. We're off on our road trip. I still need to finish some sewing, 2 more loads of laundry and start packing. I'm never this disorganized! At least it's only for a couple days, won't need that much.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Father's Day -belated

Our computer/internet connection has been so frustrating for the last week. Here is our Father's Day picture. We had Grandpa and the Grandma's over for supper. Ella and Grandpa could easily get into a lot of trouble together -ha ha. They need to be closely supervised :)

Daddy took a break in his chores to play with the Princess father's day afternoon. I'm not sure who had more fun in the sandbox!

This is why it's so frustrating that farmers get treated like dirt (no pun intended) and paid less than the cost of production. Daddy works every day, doesn't get the "holidays" off. He even had to work about 5 hours on Father's day -that's his usual Sunday hours (short day -ha ha).
Sticky Chicken


4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp pepper

Rinse and dry chicken. Rub inside and out with spice rub. Refrigerate overnight.

Roast 250F for 5 hours or 350F for 30/lb if you are in a hurry.

Cowboy Casserole

1 lb hamburger
1 cup cheese, Colby, cheddar, etc
1 can tomato soup
16 oz can corn
16 oz can kidney beans
1 tsp onion flakes
1/2 tsp chili powder

Brown beef, drain. Put everything into crockpot, stir to mix. Cover and cook on low 4 hours.

Barbecued Short Ribs

4 lbs beef short ribs
1 1/2 cups water
1 T vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t salt & dash of pepper

Cut ribs into serving size pieces. Mix everything else together then pour over ribs in large crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Could be done in the oven too, but it was delicious in the cp so why heat up the kitchen :)

This is supposed to serve 4-6, but it was barely enough for 4 (including a picky 3 year old). Next time I will definitely use closer to 6 lbs ribs and likely more sauce. I like to have leftovers.

We were slimed

Just our luck.... Brand new nets, just out of the box last night and today filled with algea.

So we smoked fish, went fishing and cleaned 600 yards of net with the pressure washer. Now Andrew is out reseting the (new) nets again so we may have some fresh for Thursday.

Day is almost done. showers for all involved for we are all speckled and covered in greenery.

We are prepared for market tomorrow. I guess Riverdale will be held on the boulevard by the cemetary. Hope to see you there.

So, not being able to settle on just one favorite mug, I picked three to share.

Every year at Wimbledon time, my nice white porcelain mug , specially made for the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, makes an appearance. It was made by a division of Royal Worcester Spode. The writing is so tiny on the bottom that I am unable to read the details, even with my bifocals! This mug was a gift from an old school chum with whom I used to watch Wimbledon on a tiny black and white telly, specially rigged for the occasion, at my girls' boarding school (Royal School for Daughters of Officers of the Army, in Bath, Somerset). How we used to faint at the glory of the gentlemen competitors' prowess on the court! Alex Olmeda was a particular favorite. I still get hooked into that terrific sporting event, especially nearer the end with all the excitement of final matches. I love that they all have to wear white gear on the court.

The other two pretty bone china mugs are from a set that was a gift from my husband. These also English bone china. I love the cheery flowers and the fact that there's a ring of flowers inside the lip of the mugs. I'm enjoying a cup of P & G Tips tea in one of them as I blog! I take my tea with milk and artificial sweetener. Although I do love a cup of Lady Grey tea in the afternoon, without milk.

I thought I was busy last week!! I've got to sew a winter coat and bonnet before Thursday and get all our laundry washed and sorted. I desperately need to get out the summer clothes.

OVFC Board meeting at noon -potluck, I'm bringing a marinated pork roast and garlic bubble bread.

Crock pot beef short ribs -new recipe, sounds good <-- to quote Ella, they were "deee-licious"

Hot dogs and chips

Leftover tenderloin from Sunday

Cowboy casserole

Sticky chicken and roast potatoes

Thursday: Ella, Grandma and I are off to southern Ontario for a road trip, ending with a surprise. I'll talk more when we get back. This is the menu for the rest of the week, I'm not responsible for whether Colin eats it or not -ha ha

Ham sandwich and chips

Leftover sticky chicken

Tenderloin or chicken sandwich

Leftover ribs

Peanut butter and honey sandwich (likely what he'll eat the whole time we're away)

Leftover chicken -we should be home sometime Saturday, but will likely grab something to eat along the way


Roast beef -done in the crockpot if it's as hot as they say it will be. Why heat the oven?

Beautiful Spicy Stir Fry

We went to celebrate the marriage of a beautiful couple last night, and low and behold, I was surprised with a special 4-course vegan meal. Vegetable consomme with raw veggies to start, followed by the cutest garden salad that you ever did see (I really wish I took a picture), the deliciously spicy stir fry pictured above, and a fresh fruit plate for dessert.

Weddings and other major social events are a difficult time for us vegans. While I am strong in my convictions, I do worry about coming across as rude and ungrateful when refusing the food that is provided and usually feel horribly awkward when sitting at a table where everyone but me is eating. So, it is always such a wonderful surprise when someone goes out of their way to ensure that I'm included, regardless of these dietary convictions. It is a thoughtfulness that I am so grateful for.

And it's also super awesome when the food they provide is as delicious as it was last night. Congrats to my friends as they begin their journey together!
Happy Father's Day. What a gorgeous day it was.
Andrew got out on the water and set some brand new nets out. He also moved them and hopefully he zeroed in on the fish again.
The bus was slow today but consistant. Such a hot day I was more than happy not to be stuck in there to long.
Tomorrow the winds are to be northeast 10 knots and sounds promising to get out fishing. So we should have fresh fish for Riverdale Market. Smoker is also going on tomorrow.
All is well today and looking forward to some promising weather over the next few days. Hope everyone had a great Father's Day and enjoyed the first day of summer. Four days left of school.
Ella's dental check-up at the Health Clinic went well. There are no problems. Her occasional "ow" when brushing is just her brushing too hard. We couldn't get her hearing checked though. They don't do that over 6 weeks. Now I have to try and go through our RNP. I'm confused about Ella's hearing. She seems to hear when I call (it's selective, but that's normal). When she goes to bed I turn on her stereo, I can hear her music but she says she can't. She also seems to have trouble with volume control some days, I want to make sure she can hear properly before I punish her too much for being too loud.

Yesterday, after her nap, we had a tea party in the living room. I hate sun and bugs, so we stayed in :) I made jam filled tea biscuits and we had ginger ale "tea". I don't believe in giving small children real tea. Ella and Grandma and I had a really nice afternoon.

She was so happy that I had made a special treat for her tea party. I love to do special things for my girl. She won't be this little forever. Another reason to home school. I don't want to lose any precious time with my princess.

OVFC delivery day went well. The A-channel reporter was really nice and truly seems interested in the plight of local farmers and keeping local food available.

The day is done and the next is soon to begin

I just helped our worker for the bus finish up the dishes and do the clean up for the bus. What a busy day for the bus and she was happy to go home. She said she never did so many fish dinners before and it made the day fly by.
Today's catch wasn't wonderful but we did catch some. It made it an early day for everyone but kinda of a disappointing one for we realize there won't be enough fish for a lot of our customers. Our help was more than eager to do more if we had it, but next time we told them. Save that energy for one day we will need it. But we do have plenty of smoked fish. Lots of regular smoked and plenty of honey garlic.
We are now preparing to try to get some sleep and start our travels tomorrow morning. We will be at the Brickworks, Wychwood and Owen Sound tomorrow. See you soon. Night for now.

And now for a change of pace for me! Some nice old fashioned machine piecing of simple 10" (finished) basket blocks. It was time to delve into my stash and I found a bunch of pretty fabrics in a muted palette of greens, rusts and tan/browns. These were bought on a whim - is there any other way to buy fabric - at a local quilt show a couple of years ago. Of course I didn't have quite enough background fabric to do all the blocks, so a quick trip, yet again, to the local quilt shop was in order!

I decided to create the half square triangles using the Triangles on a Roll paper, remembering to set a very short stitch length for easy removal of the paper! I shall be setting these blocks on point, using the darker beige fabric sitting next to the paper blocks for the setting triangles. I will be posting progress on this project as I go along! My goal is to do really accurate piecing with pointy points and take my time with this.

I produced a DVD for C & T with Sally Collins on the topic of Precision Piecing. I shall be reviewing this DVD to remind myself of some of Sally's excellent tips. One of which was to use a thin cotton thread (like DMC 50) for machine piecing so you get REALLY accurate 1/4" seams! She had terrific tips for pressing to make sure you got really nice flat and undistorted seams, too. Each piece I do these days is informed by all the techniques I learned from the fabulous quilt authors in C & T's DVD series! Even though I've been quilting for so many years, there's always something new to learn along the way.

Andrew is on his way to Dufferin

What a dreery day. But it is not raining yet. The weather perdiction was rain right through to Saturday. I am glad it's not raining as of yet for I am tending to the smokers for Saturday's markets.
The winds for today through to Monday is suppose to be light so hopefully it holds true.
There was a new article done about us in Spazzatino Magazine. I think it is available on line at and it called "Lady of the Lake."
The countdown to the last day of school is on. Our boys are awfully excited.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice

In Cuba, this dish is referred to as "Moros y Cristianos" (Moors & Christians). However, authentic Moros y Cristianos uses white rice, while this healthier version is made with brown rice. So, let's just call it "Cuban Black Beans and Rice".

The little knowledge of Cuban cooking that I have came from the Food Network and Wikipedia and so I can't pretend like I know what I'm doing when trying to replicate traditional Cuban meals. I'm intrigued with Cuban cooking because 1) I've heard people rave and rave about it and 2) the ethnocentric part of me figured it would be like Mexican cuisine, when in actuality it has more in common with Spanish and African styles, based on spice and technique. So, I basically wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Now, traditional Moros y Cristianos typically has pork or beef. I obviously skipped that step, although seitan would make a great substitute. I just used diced tomatoes (which are not usually a part of this dish, but the husband loves them), green bell pepper, carrot, garlic and onion (both sweet during cooking and green for garnish)and a ton of cayenne pepper and chili powder and some hot sauce too. A little bit of cumin. And some fresh parsley from my garden. And, of course, the "frijoles negros" (black turtle beans). Verdict = spicy and all sorts of awesome.

Again, not sure how this stacks up with an authentic Cuban rendition...but in our house it got four thumbs up.

Eat your black beans!

Black beans (like other legumes) are high in cholesterol-reducing fiber. Their high fiber content also prevents blood sugar spikes after meals and rates low on the Glycemic Index, so it is a great meal time addition for those with diabetes and hypoglycemia (or those looking to prevent insulin-related problems). They are a protein powerhouse, so they are great for those working on their fitness, as they boost energy while stabilizing blood sugars, making for more pleasant workouts (especially if you're a girl like me, who feels like she's going to faint after 5 minutes on the treadmill). When combined with a grain (like above) they are a complete protein source and a fat free alternative to other types of protein out there. Finally, they are packed with iron, as one cup of black beans provides 21.1% of your daily iron intake, particularly important for menstruating women who are at risk for iron deficiency and a great alternative to red meat, which is much higher in calories (not to mention gross).
Here's the result of a little research about the word "posh" which I used in my post yesterday:

“Oh yes, Mater, we had a posh time of it down there.” So in Punch for September 25, 1918, do we find the first recorded instance posh, meaning “smart and fashionable.” A popular theory holds that it is derived from the initials of “Port Out, Starboard Home,” the cooler, and thus more expensive, side of ships traveling between England and India in the mid-19th century. The acronym POSH was supposedly stamped on the tickets of first-class passengers traveling on that side of ships owned by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. No known evidence supports this theory, however. Another word posh was 19th- and early 20th-century British slang for “money,” specifically “a halfpenny, cash of small value.” This word is borrowed from the Romany word påšh, “half,” which was used in combinations such as påšhera, “halfpenny.” Posh, also meaning “a dandy,” is recorded in two dictionaries of slang, published in 1890 and 1902, although this particular posh may be still another word. This word or these words are, however, much more likely to be the source of posh than “Port Out, Starboard Home,” although the latter source certainly has caught the public's etymological fancy."

Isn't it great that there are folks out there who do all this research work about such things?

Here's a little invitation for something different...

I've been collecting commemorative British Royal Family mugs for years and only wish I knew where my Queen Elizabeth 2nd Coronation mug went. All British schoolchildren received these mugs to celebrate the Queen's coronation in 1953! Sadly the handle of the lovely blue mug of the Queen's 80th b'day broke off, so she has been relegated to a pencil holding mug. I actually remember listening to the BBC broadcast of the then Princess Elizabeth's wedding to Prince Philip. I had the chicken pox at the time. Gosh I feel my age when I have these sorts of memory flashes.

Relating to mugs: I've been following a couple of lovely English blogs: Weaver of Grass and Acorn Moon. Do go and check them out! There is a suggestion afoot from these two English women that people post pix of their favorite mugs on Monday June 22. I think so many people can relate to the topic, whatever their interests and passions. Don't we all enjoy a good mug of something, be it coffee or tea? What impressions will we get of each others' choices in mugs?

I'm wondering if there would be interest in a Cup and Saucer Saturday one of these days. I love to sip my tea out of a cup and saucer sometimes. Feels nice and old fashioned and "posh." I have to confess that because I mostly use a mug for beverages, I've been known to put my cup down on a surface, quite forgetting that I have a lovely saucer for that purpose! Not very "posh" of me!

I have my work cut out for me to pare down my mug collection. They are all friends to me and I try to give them each a turn. I usually end up with a couple of favorite bone china mugs, which I plan to post on Monday 22nd, although I have a couple of funky pottery ones from which coffee tastes excellent.

Recipes -June 15

Honey Pork Chops serves 6

Mix together:

1/2 c honey 1/4 c apple cider vinegar 1/4 t powdered ginger
1 T dried garlic 2 T soy sauce dash of pepper

Add pork chops and refrigerate for a few hours. All this can be added to a freezer bag and tossed in the freezer for an easy, quick, freezer meal. If using frozen mixture/chops, thaw first. Dump into bake pan, in a single layer.

Bake 350F for 45min, turning occasionally.

Hamburgers/Meatloaf/Meat Balls

1 lb hamburger 1c bread cubes/large crumbs
1/4c milk 1 t salt
1 T parsley 1 onion, chopped fine, very fine for meatballs -I use dried, or onion soup mix
1 egg

Soak bread and milk. Mix in everything else. Form into patties.

If making meatloaf, put into greased loaf pan and bake 350F for 1 hour

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Put trimmed tenderloin on a parchment lined jelly roll pan (with sides). Mix oil and balsamic vinegar -use 1T each per tenderloin. Rub onto tenderloin. Make slices in tenderloin and put in slices of garlic, to taste. Sprinkle with steak spice, thyme and rosemary.

Roast 500F for 20 minutes, though I have been known to use a lower temperature and longer time because I always seem to smoke up the kitchen at 500, but maybe you'll have more luck.

We have a busy couple weeks coming up. I also need to get this week's bread baked as well as some cookies/cake for Daddy.

Monday: Fettuccine Alfredo -sauce from a packet because only Ella and Daddy like it. I had a salad

Sweet and sour chicken balls (frozen), fried rice and vegetables

Tuesday: grocery day so Daddy has his favourite peanut butter and honey sandwich -he would live on these if he could -Ella and I get lunch out

chicken souvlaki (store made & on sale), roast garlic potatoes, salad

Wednesday: lunch meat sandwiches and chips

honey pork chops

Thursday: spaghetti -something quick that Ella will eat because she has to go to the child health clinic after lunch


Friday: hot dogs and chips

venison chop/steak in the crock pot -a treat from my Uncle

Saturday: leftover hamburgers -delivery day for OVFC. I'm actually being interviewed by Jennifer Maddigan from A-Channel Ottawa, should prove interesting ;)

bacon and eggs -I know we had this last week, but it went over really well

Sunday: french fries -another meal that Daddy would live on. He actually likes mine better
than the ones from "The Chip Pit" -high praise indeed :) Easily made, peel and slice potatoes, soak in cold water. Drain and deep fry.

balsamic pork tenderloin -Father's day treat for Daddy, may even invite Grandma
and Grandpa over.

I'll try to get the recipes posted soon.

And, just for the people who think I deprive Ella of a "real" childhood because she wears dresses:

She loves to play in her sandbox.
Short posts here lately, but I want to keep this blog busy while my life is spinning out of control. (spinning wonderfully out of control, I might add!)

Everything is beautiful. We've had a month of straight sunshine, and finally, a day of clouds with the hope of maybe a little rain, which this part of the earth really, really needs right now. It's like a picture of our souls, enjoying the sunshine so much that sometimes we forget that we need rain in our lives to survive. I'm happy in the sunshine, but when the rain comes, we can sing! And that is the challenge for all of us; to sing in the rain. So here we live, in this place of amazing spiritual beauty, how easy it is to live without the rain, and deprive ourselves of life!

Now go! Find some rain! Enjoy it! Revel in in it, and don't worry if it hurts a little bit, because you can SING! And that is the ultimate joy.

Singing in the rain,

Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes

My sister-in-law kindly invited me along to a women's cottage retreat in Lake of Bays, in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. Each cottager was responsible for one meal during our four-day stay, and I was in charge of a light meal for our first night up north. I made tempeh muffaletta and a batch of cupcakes. My original plan was to do up a batch of mucho margarita cupcakes (to go with the theme of way too much alcohol in the span of a couple days), but before we left I learned that one of the women coming along has a gluten intolerance.

While I am not gluten-free myself, I can easily get into that mindset because just like vegans, gluten-free people have to be compulsive label readers and spend meal time answering the "Wait you don't eat WHAT?!" questions from strangers. I'm sure she would have been fine having to sit out on the cupcakes and having something else for dessert, but while becoming vegan I learned the simple joy that comes along with feeling included during meal time activities and the importance of ensuring that everyone at the table is able to enjoy themselves regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences.

And, the truth is, we could all use a little less gluten in our diets and so I'm always itching to experiment with diversity in the kitchen. We cook with a lot of rice pastas, sometimes use rice tortillas for our mexican dishes. Like veganism, gluten-free diets are on the rise and so every month there seem to be more and more gluten-free products on the market - a great alternative to your standard meal plan every now and again to give your digestive system a bit of a break.

I don't know a thing about the science of baking, but when it comes to gluten-free baking, you have to use a bunch of different flours to ensure all the bases of regular wheat flour are covered (thank you Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). So, these cupcakes use tapioca, rice and quinoa flours and they turned out great (plus you don't have to worry about over-beating the batter because there is no gluten). I just made a cream cheeze vanilla frosting with and added some melted semisweet chocolate for a little colour (the cool designs are all Paul, I can't take credit for that).

Other than being a bit flakier and prone to crumbling than regular wheat-based cupcakes, they were a hit up at the cottage and I'm excited to try the vanilla gluten freedom cupcakes next.
Busy day and normally it is quiet on Sundays.
Smoker is done for Riverdale Market.
Andrew went fishing.
Bus was opened and was busy.
A film crew working on a documentary about different aspects of fishing (like anglers, etc.)followed Andrew around out on the Bay in a separate boat.
And the weather was weird. Showers, sun, cloud and breezy at times.
The weekend markets were good. I hope every one got their fish.
Right now we have a bright pink sky so hopefully fishing will be good.
We put up a badminton net and played a few games with the boys. I think it took the last bit of energy we had. I think kids have a bottomless supply of energy.
We found out today that Andrew has been nominated to run for a seat as a Band Councillor for this Reserve. Elections will be July 24. Elections happen every 2 years. We will need to wait and see what will happen.
Other than all of this, I guess it was a normal Sunday. Hope you had a good weekend.


Here I am, feeling waterlogged and very, very tired. I have a voice exam in a couple of hours, and I'm already totally exhausted. Ah well. I figured I might as well pop by to say Hi. :-) I taught a bunch of swimming this morning, which was fun, but unexpected--I thought I was guarding all morning. Ah well. It's fun to see kids having fun.

Life is a bit confusing right now. Some moments it feels as though it's spinning out of control, especially emotionally, and other moments I just feel like everything is always perfect. Which, of course, it is sometimes, but not always. I have weird, chopped up days that end up not being very productive, and everything is a little imbalanced somehow. But all is well. I'm happy.

I hope I can sing today, my voice is so tired from yelling across the I need to rest.

Take care,

Digital text... Rethinking Ourselves?

This is amazing. I feel... 'proud' (?) to be a part of this.


Smokers are going for Saturday

Nice, quiet day here. Smokers are going and the first smoker is done. The fish look pretty.
The boys are mowing the lawns. With all the recent rain the grass is looking a little like a jungle.
Andrew made it to Dufferin Market.
I got a local newsletter from the Grey-Bruce Agriculture and Culinary Association. It mentions that Rocky Raccoon's Cafe is having a Fork to Field Feast on Saturday, June 20th. Chef Robin Pradhan was the one that suggested us to do a Tandoori smoked fish. I think I can say it was successful.
Another beautiful day. Daddy is busy replacing some of his transplants and putting out the rest. The tomatoes are starting to bud, so they have to get into the garden. I'm trying to get some dresses done for Ella before we go away at the end of the month. Ideally, I'd get one whipped up for me too. I need to get a project started and ready to go before my OVF board meeting on the 22nd. I'd go insane at meetings like that without some handwork to do -just can't sit and do nothing :)

I've made a double batch of macaroni and cheese, I like to have some in the freezer for quick lunches. This is one of the meals I make that I do for love :) I would have to be starving before you'd see me touch mac and cheese, but Colin and Ella love it, so I make it. The recipe comes from my great-grandma's recipe book: Kate Aitken's Canadian Cook Book

Macaroni and Cheese

1 c macaroni
3 T butter or oil
3 T flour
1/4 t dry mustard
dash salt and pepper
2 c milk
1 T chopped onion
2 c grated cheese

Cook macaroni to almost done. Meanwhile, melt butter and flour and seasonings in a saucepan. Cook a few minutes. Carefully pour in milk, stir or whisk until thickened. Add in cheese and stir till melted. Drain macaroni and add to sauce. Pour into greased 1 1/2 qt casserole. Bake 400F for 20 min.

Chili Mac

From Fat Free Vegan.

While I love all-day cooking marathons where I can try and master complicated recipes and reach new heights of deliciousness, these kitchen parties usually only occur on the weekends because I am crazy busy during the week. When I lost my job in the auto industry, I thought I'd have more time. Somehow, I seem to have less. School is crazy hectic, as I am trying to get my thesis done by August (and the estimated time of completion keeps getting pushed back...sigh) and I'm still working at the clinic a few days a week. My days are incredibly erratic...always running to a different place at a different time, and with Paul working real estate hours, dinner can fall anywhere between 4pm and 10pm on any given weeknight.

As a result, I've been cooling it with the super complicated recipes and have instead been focusing on building a collection of 1) easy 2) quick and 3) clean recipes. By clean I mean one or two pots/pans at the most and maybe a stirring utensil. I'm not a fan of this, as I really do love to cook and now that I'm actually getting decent at it (after years of avoiding the stove) I like to be challenged. But, until I am finally, once and for all done my thesis, this is my reality.

Not that it's all gloom and doom...some of my best kitchen concoctions have risen out of the ash of desperation and ticking clocks. The above recipe was semi-stolen from Fat Free Vegan, so Susan gets all the credit...we just mixed it up a bit, as we normally do. I had a bunch of spinach on the brink of going bad, so in went that...we also used a ridiculously spicy arrabiata and so we downed a gallon of water apiece over dinner (so good though). It also uses nutritional yeast, which is a vegan necessity (although as I've recently learned, not all nooch, as us vegans affectionately refer to it, contains B12, so read your labels carefully if you don't supplement - I like Bob's Red Mill). We used gluten free rice pasta as opposed to macaroni, as that's what we had on hand. It took all of 15 minutes to make and other than cooking the pasta, all I had to do was dump everything into one pot and stir it occassionally, which meant I had time to watch a DVD episode of the Office without interruption (er - I mean - write a chapter summary for my thesis).

No fresh fish for market tomorrow. We will have smoked but we just put the nets into the water today. We had pulled them out to avoid the recent storms.

We did keep busy though. We cleaned and scrubbed the smokers. Had to replace one burner. Andrew changed a couple of universal joints on our truck and gave her a couple of new shocks for the front.

We also had some older nets that needed to be cleaned. This is what Nodin and Jason did today instead of working on fish. Its a dirty job (dirty and stinky) but it needs to be done. There is still a heap of them so we will slowly pick away at the pile. We found the pressure washer is the best way to clean them. It is very time consuming but doesn't damage the net any further.

We have another new addition to the crew, Travis. He was able to go help Andrew set the nets today. I think he will work out fine and he fits right in with us. He is willing to be flexible depending on the fish and the weather and thats is what we need.

I apologize for no fresh fish but Friday we aim to lift the nets and should have fresh for the weekend markets. Again, weather permitting.

Sunny Days

I was reading Copperswife's blog last month and came across her comment about her daughter making vanilla. I thought this was a great idea, I hate buying the fake stuff and can't afford the real stuff. So since we were in Pembroke for OVF delivery, we stopped by the liquor store and picked up a bottle of vodka. If you ever see me in the liquor store you'd laugh, I am so lost and don't usually know what I'm even looking for. And who knew? They make vodka in Alberta?! I picked up some vanilla beans at Bulk Barn, hopefully I can find a cheaper supply. The vanilla is really coming along.

We've been having a few beautiful days. Colin has finished planting the soybeans. And we had our first field picnic. Ella had great fun, she brought her ball along and played with Grandpa and Daddy. We sure get some looks/stares from the people going by on the highway. You'd think they'd never seed anyone eating in a tailgate before ;)

After visiting Daddy, we dropped by Grandma Isobel's. I was expecting a lady to stop by for some pork and Colin's mom wasn't sure she would be home. I was busy serving the lady and Grandma Isobel was "watching" Ella. I come out of the carport and what do I see??? This --->
Now don't get me wrong, this would be fine if it were 85F and humid. But this day it was comfortable, but only if you were dry! Ella was soaked and freezing by the time we got home. She needed a "hot coco" to warm up. Her clothes took a day to dry.

Today we are getting a nice, reasonable rain. We were actually starting to need it as some of the dryer fields were starting to crust. I'm about ready for warmer weather though. It just seems so cold and damp most days.

Andrew is off to Riverdale Market I have been smoking fish.

A quiet day but I went to the shore to get a couple of pictures.

I startled a duck and it was quite upset that I came down. It let me know all about it.

I also found out our pow wow this year will be August 15-16. It will be held at the Cape Croker Indian Park. It is called Butch Elliott Memorial Pow Wow (the park has put together a web page for this). It was named after a man who was one of the Reserves Band Councillors and he passed away this year. He was the MC for the Cape Croker and other reserves Pow Wow's. He was a great support for our business and will be sadly missed.

Some Recipes

Garlic Bubble Bread

**do NOT try this with real garlic, it will burn and look terrible.

Melt 1/4 cup butter and add 1tsp of garlic powder. Take a loaf size chunk of proofed bread dough (one rise) and cut into inch size pieces. Dip balls and pile up in greased loaf pan. Top with any leftover butter. Let rise an hour. Bake 350F for 30 min. For best taste use real butter.

Chicken Casserole

This is a good recipe for leftovers:

2 cups leftover gravy or thickened chicken stock
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups bite sized cooked chicken
8 oz cooked noodles (homemade or not)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
sprinkle of breadcrumbs

Mix gravy/chicken stock and milk over medium heat and stir till thickened. Add meat, noodles and cheese; remove from heat. Pour into a greased 8 cup casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake 350F for 45min.

Meat Pie

Another good leftover recipe:

pie pastry for a two crust pie (your choice of size)
1-1 1/2 cups cooked beef, I shred in food processor
1 1/2 -2 cups cooked vegetables, whatever is leftover or can use frozen vegetables. I usually have to make a few more mashed potatoes
1-1 1/2 cups gravy

I mix all the filling in a bowl first, but that's the way my family likes it. Feel free to put filling in pastry lined pie plates in layers. Gravy can be poured over top, but I also mix this with the filling. You want the filling fairly moist. Top pie with other piece of pastry. Cut slits for steam to escape.

Bake 425F for 35 minutes, let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Stuffed Baked Potatoes
I do these the easy way:

Scrub as many potatoes as necessary. Cook in microwave until done. If you want to use the oven, toss clean potatoes in a 350F oven for an hour or hour and a half until soft. Carefully slice top off potatoes and scoop insides into a bowl. Save the skins. Mash or rice the potatoes. Add in enough butter, sour cream, minced onions, and cheese to make the potatoes yummy. Refill potato skins. 10 minutes or so before supper, put potatoes into a 350F oven and reheat to melt cheese -these also reheat nicely in my toaster oven.

Pizza Dough
I've tried a number of recipes over the last 6 years. This is Colin's favourite:

1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1 Tbsp sugar
2 3/4cup flour
1 Tbsp yeast

Put in bread maker in order given, set for dough cycle. This can also be made by hand the usual way for yeast dough. Let rise and roll out to fit pan. This fits a large-ish cookie sheet.

My internet friend Niki posted for Menu Planning Monday and reminded me of the great site, I'm an Organizing Junkie. Ever since marrying Colin I've always made menus. I've never understood how Mom could shop for a week's groceries and not know what she's going to make. I shop every two weeks so I really need to know what we're having. I try to make my grocery money go as far as possible. I don't have much store choice. I shop at Walmart (now a super centre) and No Frills (a Loblaws store). I check my fliers for any upcoming sales and get the odd coupon from Save.Ca. I envy the ladies in the States that have so many stores and reward programs to use. Obviously, my pork comes from the barn :) whole chickens we bought from a neighbour, pieces are bought from No Frills when on sale, beef we sometimes trade for with the guys on OVF or I get it from the butcher who buys our pork, occasionally I even buy some from Walmart -they claim it's Canadian now. I love to cook supper, but I HATE dinner/lunch. I don't much like eating lunch-type foods and can never think of what to make. I'd rather just skip the whole meal :)

Here's this week's menu:

Sunday: Church picnic and potluck

leftover roast chicken, baked stuffed potatoes and corn with leftover garlic bubble bread

Monday: picnic with Daddy in the soybean field -chicken sandwiches, salad, potato chips and
sugar cookies

Chicken Casserole and green beans

Tuesday: Daddy has lunch with his folks, we get a treat at McDonald's for driving Grandma home from her eye appointment

Pre-made souvlaki (chicken I think), rice, Greek salad

Wednesday: Pizza -tomatoes and onions on my side, meat on the other :)

Meat pie -leftover roast beef from last week

Thursday: update - Macaroni and cheese

sold out of ribs on OVF, so we had leftover chicken casserole and mixed vegetables

Pizza -yes my pan is big enough to feed us two days

Tuna casserole (new recipe), vegetable of some sorts

Saturday: French toast -Ella's favourite -no recipe needed, just beat eggs (one for everyone plus one) with enough milk to make the custard. Dip in bread and fry (with lots of butter if you want it yummy or on non-stick pan if you are being good)

steak, potatoes and corn

In my quest to support local farmers and eat in season, I've found myself with an abundance of asparagus. Before I was vegan I hated asparagus. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I hated the thought of eating asparagus because I was so picky back then that I wouldn't even try a nibble. Yes, in those days I lived off thai chicken wings from Wings Up and cheese cappeletti from East Side Mario's (and stayed up at night wondering why I was gaining weight, and why my health was going down the pipe, for reals?) and the thought of eating one of these weird cigar-like contraptions was beyond me. What a little snot I was!

This year is the first time I tried asparagus. That I can recall, anyway. And low and behold - I liked it. This is why I silently chuckle every time someone says they can't be vegan because they would feel too limited .. I didn't lose anything by going vegan, I gained a whole new world of deliciousness that I wouldn't have even thought to try three years ago.

Anyway, we've been doing asparagus up every which way, since it is one of the first warm-weather crops to be in season here in Ontario. I've put it in lasagnas and pastas. We've grilled it on the bbq...and these here I roasted in the oven. Susan from Fat Free Vegan talked about smothering asparagus in soy and wasabi before throwing it in the oven. I didn't have her actual recipe on hand so I macgyvered my way through it a bit..a little soy sauce here, sesame oil there...and of course...wasabi and freshly ground pepper to finish it off. Twenty minutes in the oven and they made a great side to my green cashew pilaf the other night. Yum!

Eat Your Asparagus!
Asparagus promotes good heart health by virtue of its high levels of folate (66% of the daily recommended amount in one serving of asparagus). The folate also contributes to the prevention of birth defects (including neural tube defects like spina bifida) - folate is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world and is particularly imperative for women of childbearing age and asparagus is an easy (and delicious) way to secure it in your diet. It is also a natural diuretic, due to its high amounts of potassium and low level of sodium combined with an active amino acid and has been used to treat many ailments related to swelling, such as arthritis and PMS (courtesy

What date is it???

Brain cramp alert :) I made this post and then forgot to post it -oops

Ok, remind me what date it is today! Are you sure it's May 31st and not April 1st?? We actually had snow this morning. So much that Colin almost quit cutting Grandma's grass. We are having such a crazy spring. I sure hope summer get's it's act together and arrives soon or else all our plants will be dead. Colin's running out of time for planting soy beans too.

I know, I know, I'll be wishing for this weather when I can't breath in the humidity. But really SNOW!
What a difference from Friday in the weather.
It is a rainy day here but Andrew still made it out fishing. he found his nets in good condition and lots of trout. The fish he found were quite large and they must of been eating well. They will be put aside for smoking for Dufferin Groves Market.
The smoker is going right now for Riverdale's Market. We are hoping the rain avoids the market but we shall see.
Markets yesterday went well. Andrew sold out at Wychwood early and I came close at Brickworks. Owen Sounds Market also did well. We were able to sell most of our cedar planked fish. The planked fish is usually a nice sized fish that is ready for the barbecue for the planks have already been soaked for a couple of hours. We love the smell of cedar. While the planks are soaking it fills the plant with the lovely smell of cedar. The planks make the fish a quick easy meal. You just need to put it on the barbecue that is on medium heat and close the lid for 15-20 minutes. You can season your fish to your liking before cooking. Then just enjoy possibly with some barbecued potatoes, asparagus. or other grilled veggies. Nice thing as the summer goes on the supper can be cooked outside and you don't need to turn on the stove/oven.

Learning New Stuff

I just spent four great days at Lorraine Torrence's quilting design retreat.  The weather was spectacular as was the view of mountains through the dining room window.

I took my Split Decision blocks and only got as far as putting them up on the design wall.  There were so many other cool things going on that just sitting and sewing blocks together wasn't very interesting!  We had various demos including screen printing, using discharge paste to remove color from fabric, how to do faced bindings, how to piece strips in order to achieve perspective. There were fabulous show and tells and I watched two groups do the Big Reveal on round Robin projects they had participated in.  Lorraine had organized a scissor sharpening guy to come, there was massage available, and some vendors as well.  Phew!  Talk about happy overload.  I got into a little trouble at Judy Robertson's table with her lovely hand dyed fabrics and found a few pieces of Cherrywood and hand dyed silk that I couldn't live without as well.  The little turquoise piece was me messing with the Design Challenge exercise that was set.  I couldn't get that one together, although I tried.  We were given a list of specific things we had to include in this project and the object was to make a Unified design.  One of the objects was a Pictorial Fabric -- and that threw me for a loop.  But it was interesting to see how other "campers" did this exercise which was critiqued on the last morning.

Now to find some inspiration to create another happily obsessive quilt and perhaps apply some of my newly learned skills in some way.

You may recall my homemade burger making dilemma and my obsession with obliterating isolated soy from my diet. Well, obliterate is a bit harsh...let's go with limit. I like to barbeque as much as I can in the summer, because winters here in Canada are long and if I don't barbeque enough, I find myself bumming pretty hard in January when the BBQ is buried under 6 feet of snow.

So, in my quest for something to put on a bun and call a hamburger during the summer months I have hit many roadblocks. Making them at home is probably the best bet, but I have had more than one epic fail in this department, even though the avocado ones I've tried are now my favourite in-a-pita ingredient. They just weren't doing it for me on the grill. But, low and behold, as I was grabbing a carton of rice milk and a pack of organic tofu in the green aisle of Zehrs I saw Tempeh Burgers by Green Cuisine. They are the first packaged veggie burgers I have come across that are free of isolated soy.

Now, I don't rightly know how this differs from just grilling a regular slab of tempeh because in my excitement over grilling them I threw out the packaging and now I can't even find a website for them. It could very well be that I've been taken and just paid 50 cents extra for plain old tempeh because it's in a circular shape conducive to placement on buns. I admit, I got a little excited and other than making sure they were vegan I really didn't pay attention to what I was buying.

God, could I get any more lazy. I'm pretty sure I could just grill tempeh and put it on a bun. It's just easier to do them this way, if you're in a rush or if you're planning on taking them on a summer excursion. Plus, they come in BBQ flavour if that happens to suit your fancy and you don't mind the extra calories.

Anyway, they are delicious...the non-vegan husband also enjoyed them so they pass the omnivore test. They require very little work to grill and they pack up nicely if you're going camping or to the cottage (one of the main reasons I wanted something more substantial than those deliciously messy avocado burgers - which would surely be a nightmare to try and cook on the campfire in August).

I put them on a whole grain bun, with tomato, spinach, onion and mustard (my toppings of choice). We grilled asparagus, peppers and zucchini in some italian spice and threw some chipotle spice on a sweet potato because we were craving fries. Ridiculously easy, ridiculously delicious...perfect for when you don't want to spend a warm June day slaving in the kitchen.

What a beautiful day

What an amazing day weather wise. Sun, very little wind and clear.

The smokers are done for the Saturdays markets. We freed up tomorrow to concentrate on the fresh fish that hopefully will be coming in.
The bus also was prepared to be opened for another day tomorrow. Sounds like beautiful weather for Friday and Saturday to sit outside and eat some fresh cut fries and deep fried whitefish.
Andrew found this piece of wood the other day when he was out fishing and thought it would be an interesting addition to our future rock garden.
Our forecast is the wind is light becoming 15 knots Friday evening. The wind or breeze is from the north. Waves 1 metre or less. Then on Sunday when Andrew hopes to head out again it says the wind will be light. Sounds good and lets hope it holds true.

The Nets Were Slimed

We found the algae. Didn't find many fish but found algae galore. Hopefully that's not a preview of things to come.

Yesterday I joined Andrew at Riverdale Market so that we could go together to an Italian celebration at the Italian Conciliate. We had been invited by a friend of ours and he thought we would enjoy it for we loved the time in Italy when we were able to go last fall. We had some wonderful food. We also met some very nice people and overall had an enjoyable evening. It brought back some wonderful memories of Italy when we were offered the opportunity to go to the Slow Foods Conference in Torino, Italy last October.

Our fish is ready for Dufferin Grove's Market tomorrow. The fish are in the brines ready to be smoked tomorrow while Andrew is off to market. This is the beginning of Saturday's markets. We also finally had some new business cards made up and if I do say so myself, they look great.

So far so good except the algae today.