I'm alive and kicking!

Hello friends!  I'm still alive, in Texas, and surrounded by wonderful friends.  God is good.  He is teaching me tons, and I am continually blessed.  Just 2 more weeks!  Bittersweet like crazy.

Sheila Christine
Matthew, Kere, and the kids stayed over last night.  I love it when they do except for the whole kids getting up at the crack of dawn thing.   William's bedroom is just above ours so I can usually hear his little feet running across the hardwood floor first thing in the morning.  He only weighs about thirty five pounds but it sounds as though there is a whole herd of elephants trampling around up there.  Well maybe it's not that bad but at 6:15 in the morning it sounds pretty similar.

This morning I did not hear a peep.  Ian the sweetheart that he is (and morning person too I might add), took William downstairs and fed him breakfast in the family room (a rare treat).   I made my way downstairs at about 8:30 to find them watching a movie together.
"It took me half an hour to figure out how to put this flipping movie on."  Ian complained.   Kere and I broke out into fits of laughter.   He was still complaining about it hours later as if it were my fault that he found it so difficult to put in a movie.

Oh how I love my technotard.


I am the handyman in the house.  There is a reason for this.  We discovered early in our marriage that I was just more adept at that kind of thing.  If something came unassembled and with more than a page of instructions it was given to me to put together.


Of late, Ian has taken more of an interest in these things therefore I felt pretty comfortable in letting him handle the yearly changing of our water filter.  The filter is located in a dark corner of the crawl 
space in our basement right next to the water pump (we are on well water).  I carefully went through the instructions including clearly informing him that he would need to shut the water off to the filter.  He disappeared for a while and came back quite proud of himself.  He had successfully changed the filter.  I was proud of him too.

 Last week, he informed me that it was time to change the filter (the OCD in him makes him mark it on the calendar).  I was going to remind him that he had done it quite successfully the last time and maybe we should flip for it but decided it would be easier to just go and do the job.  I made my way to the filter and it was then that I discovered that a whole year before, Ian had forgotten to turn the water to the filter back on.  Yes, there is a reason I am the handyman.

Book Review: Amphibian by Carla Gunn

I just finished reading Amphibian by Carla Gunn and have been torn about whether or not to post an entry about it.

The book, although environmentally-themed, has virtually nothing to do with veganism and thus I'm not sure it has a place here on my blog, but it is such a charming little story that relates so closely to what many of us vegans experience on a day-to-day basis that I thought I should mention it to the other avid readers who may take a glimpse at my blog.

Amphibian tells the story of nine-year-old Phineas Walsh, an incredibly clever and precocious boy who would spends his time watching The Green Channel and authoring short stories about a fictional planet paralleling the plight of our own Earth's environment.

Phin's concern rests on not only the horrible things happening to the Earth and the creatures that inhabit it, but also the fact that no one - not his classmates, not his mother, not the psychiatrist that his mother forces him to see - seems to give a damn that any of it is happening. His concerns are continually berated by those around him and reach a boiling point when his mother, under the guidance of his therapist, forbids Phin from watching The Green Channel in an effort to manage his anxiety. The problem, they say, is not with the world (which he could never possibly change) - the problem is with him.

This story is about what it feels like to be an outsider. To care about something so important to the very fabric of who we are and where we live; to care about something that is not only not shared by others in young Phin's life, but something that is continually mocked by most of those around him. Although indirectly, it does relate to the experiences we go through as vegans.

It is curious that there is no mention of Phin being a vegetarian. Phin is consumed with saving animals (even "Cuddles" the classroom frog) and there are definite animal activist undertones to many of the things he says, such as:

"But do you know what I think? I think that some people can't stand to think that animals feel a lot like human beings. I think it's hard enough for people like my mom to write and hear about what's happening to other human beings around the world - let alone other animals too. Knowing that so many more of the earth's animals feel sadness and pain is just way too much hurt for their minds to let them see."

It is common knowledge now that the most effective thing any single person can do for the environment is to abstain from eating animal products, and I am convinced that someone who is as aware of the world around him and as concerned for the planet as Phin is would take up, at the very least, a vegetarian diet.

Regardless of veganism being overlooked, this is a charming story about a little boy who wants to change the world and a world of people that think he is, quite literally, crazy. It's a story that I think will be appreciated by the many folks out there who, like me, bawl their eyes out while watching the animals covered in oil in the Gulf or spend their nights staring at the ceiling wondering where clean drinking water is going to come from in a few years. It touches on what it means to be a part of the 21st century world, a place where a large portion of people are obsessed with the environment and preserving our planet and yet refuse to make any real changes because they may involve some level of sacrifice. My favourite part of Amphibian involves a classroom Earth Day celebration where the assignment is to draw a picture of the greatest gift humans can give the earth. Phin's picture is equal parts hilarious, depressing and - unfortunately - painfully accurate.

If you are easily frustrated by environmental literature that does not at least mention the importance of veganism to our planet's survival, I would not suggest picking up this book. If you can look past that, I think Amphibian is an entertaining and inspiring story about just how lonely the burden of knowing too much can be and the differences that one person (even a little boy) can make in the world.

These fish will see you Saturday morning...  Yum.

Spare Time

Spare time, who has that anymore?  I try not to over schedule our lives.  Ella does one activity during the fall/winter and nothing over the summer.  Our lives are busy enough with day-to-day life.
What do you do to relax?  I like to knit.  I do other forms of handwork like smocking, tatting and embroidering, but knitting is my hobby of the moment.   I've been working on some Christmas presents and I plan on getting them done way before Christmas.  I hate trying to finish projects at the last-minute.  I get most of my knitting done in the evening while watching tv with Colin.  I've always been one to do handwork while watching tv, I just can't sit and do nothing.  My hands always like to be busy.  That was the one good thing when I worked in Toronto.  I had a 2 hour commute (GO Train and Go Bus) and had plenty of time to get stuff done.

I thought I'd share a few of the things I've been working on.  I love making socks, there are so  many beautiful sock wools out there.  Sigh, so much wool, so little time  :)   This beautiful scarf is made out of an Italian wool.  It is 80% wool and 20% cashmere.  It feels beautiful.  I used some Russian lace patterns and made a Moebius scarf.   It's an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern.  I love her books/ideas.  She has a very chatty style that feels like you're hanging out with a friend.

This is how Ella spends her spare time.  Drawing in her tent.  The living room finally got tidied up enough for me to build her a tent.

This is Ella's Drumstick.  His new home  is Ella's bug catcher.  It's likely the only use it will get, she doesn't like bugs.  Takes after her Momma.
Good news for people who enjoy our smoked fish.  Not so great news if you had hoped to get some fresh.
The winds were gusty and all the fishermen hung out on shore for the day. 
We hope to have fresh fish for Saturday.  Hoping for good weather though.  We definitely will have smoked for Saturday but fresh will be a bit of wait and see game.
See you at market tomorrow.


In my last post I added some pictures to illustrate various types of mullet hairstyles.  I just googled some images of mullets and chose a few that I felt best represented the style.   Amazingly, I picked an image of a young man sporting a skullet that some friends actually know.   The crazy thing is, this young man hails from Ian's home town of Dunedin, New Zealand.  What are the chances?   According to Kere it's 50/50.  Her reasoning?  Dunedin is the mullet capital  of the world.  I was under the impression that North Bay is.

Sadly, I very rarely make it out to our local farmer's market because I work all of the three days that it is up and running in the summertime. I do, however, have a pretty cool "Produce Guy" that does his best to supply as many local goodies as he can, seven days a week. He is also known to stock the shelves with a few funky fruit and veggie items that don't often find themselves in the standard chain supermarket's aisles. When I go visit him on Friday mornings he greats me with a hearty "Hello, Young Lady! Look what I have for you today!" and, knowing that I am not only a vegan but an adventurous vegan, he is always sure to point out the random and unexpected produce items he has in stock for the week. It was he that brought sunchokes into my life, and it was he that convinced me to try the jicama for the first time.

The jicama is also known as the Mexican turnip. It's a fairly low-calorie root vegetable that has a sweet taste - almost like a very mild apple. It is best eaten raw, making it perfect for salads.

The recipe for the horribly photographed but incredibly delicious salad you see at the top of this entry comes from Veganomicon and the raw jicama paired with a refreshing citrus vinaigrette does well to keep you cool on hot summer afternoons like the ones we've been having here in southern Ontario as of late.

We had a ton of leftover jicama, so a few days later Paul made a mild coleslaw (salt, oil and vinegar like I grew up on - to this day it strikes me as weird that people put mayo in slaw). He added shredded jicama to the shredded cabbage making it even more refreshing than your standard issue coleslaw.

Produce Guy asked me how I liked it when I returned a few days later for another fresh vegetable fix and he gave me a great idea - stirring raw shredded jicama into soups right before serving so that it maintains its bite and adds a little something something to standard soups. I think It would go exceptionally well in heartier fall and winter soups like creamy parsnip, or a butternut squash puree.

Is it bad that I am kind of over summer already? I miss hoodies and bowls of soups and not sweating my body weight every afternoon.

Off to Riverdale and Stonegate Market tomorrow

The fish are already and we are just trying to relax before our trip tomorrow morning.  I will be headed to the city tomorrow with Andrew for the boys are away at camp for a few days.  This will be the first time this year I am able to do Riverdale for I am usually smoking fish for Dufferin Market.  It will be nice to see some familiar faces and some new ones. 
I had hoped to take a couple of pictures tonight to try out our new camera.  We finally found a replacement for our camera that had bit of an accident a couple of weeks ago.  Ever small cameras these days.  Our old one wasn't that big but this new one is about the size of my cell phone.  Now I hope it doesn't find its way into the washing machine.  It is small enough I could see that happening.
We had some new t-shirts made up for ourselves and employees.  They are black with our logo, name and job title on the sleeves.  I think they look nice.  The logo really shows up quite clearly.
The countdown is on to us talking at Foodprint Toronto.  It is this Saturday at the Green Barns after the market.  I think we are slotted in from 3-4pm.  This will be a first for me to do something like this and I am trying to relax.  Andrew has done it once in San Jose last April and he managed just fine.  I hope to follow his lead. 


It appears I may have offended a few people with a mention in a previous post about mullets.  I did not realize that some men sport a mullet for a legitimate reason.  If you play a certain cold weather sport you may refer to your mullet as "hockey hair."  Apparently the "party in the back" is really meant to keep the neck warm.  I didn't know.  But if this really is the case, why do I see so many in the summer?

I have discovered that there are variations to the mullet/hockey hair.
The Skullet 
(self explanatory)
The Frullet
 (curly hair mullet)

The Femullet
 (apparently you can't buy this)
and finally....
The Chullet 
(should I call Children's Aid?)

The scary thing?  I saw an example of each just this weekend.  Gotta love the north!

Poor Raggedy Jane still hasn't got any hair. But she's a patient soul. She sits out on my sewing table reminding me each time I pass that a girl really does need some hair, even in the nice hot and sunny weather we are finally enjoying in the Pacific Northwest. I know she's happy with her red shoes and pretty clothes, though.

Fortunately she isn't able to see the other projects I've got going with yarn: one granny crochet stripe blanket in progress, and I just started a Ripple blanket. Both crochet patterns courtesy of the amazing Lucy on her Attic::24 blog. I'm waiting for more colors to arrive from an online source for the granny blanket so spent quite a few hours really persevering with the ripple pattern. It's amazing how many good tutorials there are on Youtube. And those, along with Lucy's excellent pattern - which is full of great photographs - have got me happily whizzing along up the the little hills and down into the little valleys of the pattern. Call me obsessed, but I needed to get it all just right, so it then becomes fun, relaxing and meditative to do.

On the promotional DVD for the Quilt Ladies front: They have approved the piece with very few changes. My sons did a sterling job with the editing, sound and music parts, and the copy I wrote and narrated sounds friendly and informative. Now comes the business of pushing through with replication of a few hundred physical copies, working with a graphic designer for a simple cardboard sleeve to insert the thing into. The other part of the job will be getting the piece, which turned out at about 5 minutes, posted up on the internet. Fortunately the organization has a tech-savvy web-mistress who will be doing the internet part! I'll keep you posted on how to view it. Maybe I'll even be able to figure out how to include it on this blog. The crochet has been a nice peaceful balance to the DVD production excitement.

By the way, I just noticed that I passed the 10,000 point on my Visitor Counter. Thanks to everyone who keeps stopping by to read and to comment!

Hello World!

Just popping by to say Hi!  The background is changed because the other one died.  This isn't my favourite background ever, but it was the first one I found and sort of liked, and I don't feel like working on it right now.  So... another time.  :-)  Anyway, all is well, I'm exhausted, and I went to bed at 3am last night.  :-D  Camp has been so ridiculously hard, but right now I feel amazingly happy.  First off, I was up until 3am drinking hot chocolate and squirting reddi-whip into my mouth with three amazing FRIENDS.  And it was just all silliness, although that was fun too.  We talked about God and life and home and people in our lives and it was just good.  It's so amazing that God has blessed me in this way, and I know leaving here is going to be crazily sad.  I'm almost ready to be done with camp, but I don't want to leave these people.  Having to work together in such a stressful job as volunteers with hundreds and hundreds of children around all the time, and being forced to work out difficult situations makes you come together in this bond of unity in the body of Christ that is unprecedented.  God is good.

That's it!
Wednesday was our homeschool trip to the local pioneer village.  It was a little smaller than I was expecting.  But then again, I grew up just an hour outside of Toronto and am used to Black Creek Pioneer Village and Lang Pioneer Village (just outside of Peterborough).  For a town as small as Petawawa is, and as transient as a large part of their population is (CFB Petawawa), it's really a pretty good little pioneer village.  They even had a few costumes for the kids and mob caps for all the girls.

The day started off ominously.  There were severe thunderstorm warnings with black clouds and thunder in the distance.  We weren't getting any rain at home.  There's one thing I've learned living up here for 7 years; drive half an hour and the weather's likely different.  We passed through some rain and by some really black clouds.  By the time we got to Petawawa it was just a light drizzle.  The only time it really rained we were in school so it didn't matter.

This is SS# 3 Black Bay school.  It's an original building that was moved to the site.  The guy playing the school teacher was really good.  The only thing is he forgot to give the little people some busy work.  So a couple of them got really upset because they couldn't spell the words he wanted.  Some ended up in tears.

It's kind of funny when we go to historical places like this.  It really shows how close we still are to pioneer/Victorian times.   The desk Ella is sitting in is the same as Grandma had in grade school.  The desk behind the interpreter (with writing arm and drawer under the seat) is the kind of desk Grandma had in high school and the kind I had in some classes in Senior Public (same building as Grandma's old h.s.).

We moved on to the Molson House (not the beer people).   It's a tiny board and batten homestead house.  Many of the 'antique tools' in the kitchen are the same as I already have and use or would like to have.  Most specifically, the kitchen furniture behind Ella in this picture.  This is how I'm going to 'furnish' my kitchen if I ever get a new one.  I would love a Hoosier and bake table.

The girls got a washing demonstration.  Ella really liked scrubbing the linens and then putting them through the wringer.  The interpreter could have been a little more accurate though.  She said laundry was done ever 2-3 weeks (what ever happened to Monday wash day) and that people bathed that infrequently too.  Yes, people bathed less often than we do now but usually older people talk about their Saturday night baths.  AND, just because people only bathe once a week doesn't mean they smell (as she said).  I guess the interpreter's never heard about sponge bathing and general washing.  Most people I knew that lived at the end of the last century (the time period portrayed) would be highly offended that people are telling children they smell.

At least they didn't tell the children my biggest museum pet peeve.  It really bugs me when an interpreter points out the short beds and small clothes and says 'everyone in this period were so much shorter/smaller than we are'.  This is so inaccurate.  Yes, generally people were shorter, but this doesn't mean they were midgets it means shorter by a few inches.  The main reason Victorian beds are shorter is because the Victorians slept with many pillows, trying to keep themselves in an upright position.  This was believed to help prevent fluid in the lungs and consumption (tuberculosis).  I agree that most vintage clothing that is still around is tiny, but this also has a logical explanation.  The large majority of clothing from the Victorian era was passed on, cut down and otherwise recycled.  The tiny clothes weren't able to be used by others.  It's like when Ella was born, we received many clothes because she was tiny and could easily fit the hand-me-downs.  But I am unable to pass on most of Ella's clothes because children/babies are so much bigger/fatter than she is; therefore many of Ella's clothes get packed away and saved.

Next stop was the blacksmith's shop.  He did a nice demonstration for the group.  The children were all fascinated.  I've never seen them all sit so still and so quiet.

We had lunch in the school-house since the ground was so wet and the sky was still threatening rain.  After lunch the one interpreter showed everyone how to play the pump organ.  Ella was the only one to figure out how to do it herself.  She sounded like a professional church organist.  I wish we had a piano.

This is Daddy's favourite picture.  He was very interested in the miniature steam engine.  Ella was quite fascinated with the engine too.

We might go back and take Daddy in August.  They have Settler's Day and it sounds quite interesting.

Ready for all 4 markets

The fish are all done and organized.  Just to set our alarm for 2am and get out the door soon after to get our fish to Owen Sound, Orangeville, the Brickworks and Green Barns Farmers markets. 
Not a lot of smoked or fresh fish this week.  But hopefully if you show up early there will be a bit of a selection.  See you tomorrow.

I had a regular egg-based quiche once in my life and I found the taste and texture to be so unsettling that I nearly threw it up all over the boardwalk that I was eating it on. Eggs have always been quite sketchy to me; their sliminess was something I could never get on board with, which is probably where my aversion to breakfast foods came from.

Never having to eat such a thing again was one of the many incalculable perks of going vegan.

Funnily enough, when it comes to making traditionally egg-based items using tofu instead, I am in love - even when the tofu is prepared in such a way that it creates a mock egginess. (Have I officially coined this term? "Egginess" Copyright 2010, ThisIsVegan.com).

As such, quiches and other breaky items have once again found themselves in my meal prep repertoire after years of being blacklisted, although I rarely find myself eating them for breakfast. Who on earth has time to be that fancy in the mornings? Most weekends are even write-offs, although I am known to make a pretty decent Sunday morning spread when I want to (potato frittata, tempeh hashbrown casserole and tofu rancheros among some of my favourites).

This quiche is the ultimate brunch item, but the two of us had it as a very late dinner the other night, in between working around the house and trying to catch the late showing of Inception at the cinema (which, by the way, was awesome). It comes together fairly easily and is a great summertime fridge crisper cleaner as you can toss whatever vegetable elements you have leftover from the week on in. I followed the recipe pretty closely by using bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and of course, the sweet potato and topped it all off with fresh chives from my herb garden. The tofu is processed with nutritional yeast, miso, garlic powder, tumeric and black pepper, giving it a creamy and almost cheesy taste.

We ate it with some peppered Ontario green beans fresh from the market and even made it to the movie on time (seriously, check out Inception - it made my brain explode).

The recipe for this quiche comes from HelloVeggie.org and you can find it by clicking here.

P.S. If you are in the southern Ontario area, Animal Freedom Day is happening tomorrow in Burlington! I have to work, but as long as I get off at a decent time I will be making my way to Spencer Smith Park in the afternoon. There will be face painting, games, animal freedom t-shirt making, a vegan potluck, and a march and candlelight vigil for the animals. It's a part of the Burlington Jazz & Blues Festival, which is an entirely vegetarian event (I can't wait to stuff my face!). If you can't make it down, I urge you to take the veg pledge and tune in live via UStream!

On the way to Dufferin

The fish are all loaded and Andrew is on his way to market.  Looks like beautiful weather but kinda on the warm side. 
I am busy smoking fish for Saturdays markets.  I hope everyone is enjoying the new tandoori spices. 

Black Bean Sliders & Fries (Marbles, Waterloo)

I spent the better part of today trolling the shops in Uptown Waterloo with my mom. After reluctantly not buying what is probably the cutest little dress I have ever seen because it was just a tad too skimpy (sigh, if only I were a few years younger) we stopped for lunch.

We went to Marbles, which is located on the corner of William and King in Waterloo, Ontario. It's a restaurant we've been frequenting for some time now. Here's a picture that I have unapologetically thieved from Google Maps:

Although it is not a vegan joint, Marbles is home to many vegan options. I normally get their peanut stir fry, but today I noticed a new menu item - black bean sliders! They were topped with guacamole and fresh salsa (and also a chipotle mayo option, which I obviously politely declined, so they kindly doubled my guac instead). They come with a mix of regular and sweet potato fries.

The plan was to take half home to Paul.

For a person who is allegedly trying to lose ten pounds, I'm not trying very hard, am I?

Marbles Restaurant
8 William Street East
Waterloo, ON N2J 1K9
(519) 885-4390

Vegetable Kebabs Agrodolce (with Rice) and Simple Bean Salad

I'd never made kebabs before (vegan or otherwise), so I was really excited when this month's Vegetarian Times cover recipe was for Vegetable Kebabs Agrodolce.

A quick wikipedia consult established that agrodolce is a traditional Italian sweet and sour sauce. Sounded good to me, so I cautiously moved into unknown skewer territory the other night.

The items that made there way onto the skewers were the following: radicchio, eggplant, summer squash, zucchini and avocado. The agrodolce is made with pine nuts, garlic, herbs and raisins among a few other key ingredients.

The veggies are threaded onto bamboo skewers (by the way, always, always soak your bamboo skewers in water for several hours before putting them anywhere near your barbeque - unless, of course, you don't like your eyebrows). Once threaded, they are topped off with a bit of the agrodolce and tossed onto the grill over a high flame for a few minutes, just enough to get some good char marks on the veggies, and then they are topped with any remaining agrodolce.

Now, the recipe called for steaming the squash/zucchini and eggplant for a couple minutes before threading them onto the skewers and grilling them. I obviously steamed them for too long, because a third of them turned into completely unusable mush. Next time I make these I will steam them for two minutes at the absolute most and then spread them out on a separate plate so that the cooking ceases and they are given ample space to cool down.

These skewers are quite possibly my new favourite summertime menu item. I can't believe how amazing grilled avocado is - why have I never tried this before?! The radicchio also provides an intense smoky flavour that reminds me why I love summer, because it's certainly not because of the heat - it's because of the food.

I made some standard issue rice to go along with the kebabs - brown rice cooked in some vegetable broth and hot sauce. When finished cooking, I tossed in some fresh herbs from my garden (parsley, oregano and chives) and the excess agrodolce that wouldn't stay on the kebabs.

Canned beans were also on sale this past week, so I decided to put some to good use and made a simple bean salad:

Simple Bean Salad

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cans beans
(pick what you like or what you've got on hand - I used 1 can red kidney beans and 1 can navy beans)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Sprinkle of chopped fresh chives
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Toss all of the ingredients together, mix thoroughly and refrigerate for a couple hours to let the flavours mellow. The longer you let it chill, the better it tastes, so feel free to make it the night before you want to eat it.

This bean salad packs up perfectly for picnics or days at the beach and is such a refreshing way to combat the midsummer heat. And check your local news stand for the summertime edition of Vegetarian Times, you won't be disappointed with this veggie kebab recipe!


I have no idea if anyone reads this blog anymore, however I'm going to post just for fun.  Plus a couple Texas pictures for 'y'all'.  ;-)

Working at the Tower!  This is belaying, and it's pretty amazing.

Apple eating during staff training!

So yes, work here at His Hill is challenging to say the least, but God has blessed me enormously with His love and generosity in the form of the fact that I am still surviving and that I still love Him, and that I actually have friends I can look at for once in... eons, I don't know.  Not going to post much, I'm with people and enjoying their company.

Hugs and love in Christ!

Last week we went to Florida with some friends.  The week didn't start off the greatest when I suffered the worst migraine I have ever had.  As soon as we got to the resort after arriving, I laid on the bed, clothes and all and slept until the next morning, well almost morning.  I awoke at five thirty to the sound of Ian's voice asking me if I was awake.  Apparently because he was awake he felt I should be too, after all I had gone to bed hours earlier than he had.  I think I just mumbled "mmmm mmmm" and rolled over to try and sleep a little longer.  He informed me that he couldn't sleep so he was going to the front desk (in another building) to pick up an ethernet cable for the internet.   He got the cable and came back only to find that his electronic key would not open the door.  Not wanting to walk all the way back to get it reactivated, Ian decided he would just knock on the door and wake one of us up.  He knocked and he knocked and he knocked and he knocked until someone finally opened the door.  Apparently because Ian was awake he felt everybody in room 602 of building E should be too.  We were in building F.

The fish are all ready for all of Saturday's Markets

The fish are sorted and organized for the markets.  We are all off to bed and will see you at markets tomorrow.


Last weekend I attended a bridal shower for my soon to be daughter in law (it was fun even though my team didn't win the prize for best toilet paper wedding dress).   The young ladies hosting the party asked us to write down a short piece of marital advice for Emily on heart shaped construction paper attached to pipe cleaner, they would then make it into a little bouquet  which they would give Emily to keep.  After writing down my advice I handed it in along with the the rest of the 'hearts' made at my table.  It was only after I handed it in that the panic struck.  What I had written was really just meant for Emily and was not meant to be shared at an event that included some young girls.  I quickly called Emily over and explained to her that if they asked her to read them out, she should either skip mine or just read out the first part.  The problem with that plan was, I hadn't signed my name.

As my luck would have it, they called Emily up to read the advice to everyone present.  She got to mine and started reading it out.  She looked over at me and I shook my head no... vigorously, I might add.  She smiled sweetly and proceeded to read the rest out. 

I will give Emily the benefit of the doubt and assume that when I shook my head no she understood it to mean "no, that one is not mine".  Yes, I am sure that is what happened...right? .... Emily?

If you really want to know what I wrote (it wasn't all that bad) you will have to leave a comment and I will reply privately.
Today I am inspired by this blog. I need some fabric play and the idea of being loose and fancy free appeals to me. We're having a gorgeous heat wave after lots of dreary grey weather, I'm working on finishing up the promotional DVD I'm producing, and apart from a bit of crochet, I've been away from my fabric for too long.

It is getting toasty again

What a day.  But the fish were tackled and completed for Dufferin Market.  It was a beautiful day but quite warm. 
Hope to see you at market.
Check it out, Peep has friends!!!

The Daiya Experiment...Part Three: Cheddar Bake

Friends, I have saved the best for last.

In my pregan days, my summertime claim to fame was a cheddar vegetable and pasta bake served alongside burgers of some sort.

For years I have been unable to recreate this dish in a vegan-friendly way. It was the one measly thing that I simply could not make a decent vegan version of.

It was my Everest.

It bugged me. Oh, how it bugged me. I live in a "anything omnis can do, vegans can do better" world, which may be a bit conceited, but is good for the spirit when living in an often unaccommodating omnivorous society. So you can see why giving up on veganizing this old favourite was simply not an option. I would not concede to failure!

The problem was that the cheddar flavour is (obviously) the predominant force in this dish's deliciousness. Other cheese-based dishes can be more easily veganized if the cheesy taste is masked by another flavour in such a way that you don't notice that you're not eating dairy cheese. In those instances it doesn't really matter what kind of vegan cheese you throw in there.

In the case of this cheddar bake, any old vegan cheese would simply not do, since the vast majority of cheeses marketed to vegans taste absolutely nothing like dairy cheese. What good is a cheddar bake if all vegan cheeses make you gag, as they did me?

Enter Daiya.

(Vegan) Cheddar Bake


3 cups whole wheat pasta (uncooked)
2 tbsp vegan friendly margarine
(alternatively you could use olive oil but go for the margarine if you have it!)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 cup rice milk (plus extra, if needed to thin the sauce)
2 1/4 cups cheddar Daiya
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
(I used peas, green beans, lima beans, corn and carrot - but it would be really great with frozen broccoli)
Salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper - to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 375F. Cook pasta in a large pot in boiling water for about 8 minutes or until done al dente.

2) In a separate large saucepan, melt the vegan margarine over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, until just browned (but be careful that it doesn't burn!). Stir in the flour and cook for another minute, the mixture should become paste-like. Slowly stir in the rice milk, until the mixture reaches the desired consistency (I usually use one cup plus a couple tablespoons). Add the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

3) Increase the heat to a gentle boil (but be very careful that the mixture does not burn). Once boiling, decrease heat to low and stir in 2 cups of the Daiya. Stir continuously until the Daiya is melted.

4) Drain pasta and toss into the cheesy sauce. Add the thawed vegetables and mix well.

5) Place the pasta mixture in a lightly oiled casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of Daiya and top with breadcrumbs, if desired. Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Yields 4 large servings as a main dish, or 6 smaller servings as a side dish

I swear, this is even better than the dairy version, and I am not just saying that because I love veganism. It is actually better. While we were eating it Paul felt the need to say out loud, "Is it just me, or is this really good? Like, really good?"

And that comes from a person who has had dairy cheese more recently than I have.

It's lighter. It's creamier. And you don't feel disgusting when you're finished eating it.

I've reached the top of Everest and it feels (tastes?) goooooooooooood.

[In case you can't tell by the first picture, I will note that I have given up on making homemade veggie burger patties. Instead, we marinated a pair of absolutely massive portobello mushrooms from the market in barbeque sauce, grilled them on the barbeque and then topped them with chipotle guacamole instead. Perfect main dish to complement my beloved cheddar bake!]
We had quite the thunder-storm yesterday afternoon.  It got quite wild and scary.  I was very glad Colin was in the house with us, storms make me very frightened nervous.

Does anyone see what's wrong with this picture of our barn???\

That's right, you should not be seeing daylight through the boards on the top floor.  Wonder why??  
That is the door to the barn's hay loft, from back in the day when Dad had cows.  It's barely hanging from one hinge.  Colin says we're lucky.  Some of the barns down the highway don't have any ends left in them at all. We'll have to get someone in to fix it, as we have nothing capable of lifting the hay door.

You have no idea how much I thanked God that this hail only fell for a minute or so.  This is about half an inch in diameter and would have decimated our crops.

Ella's poor 'clubhouse' really took a beating.  Luckily, Colin was able to fix it up.  He says, at least, it will last out the year.  We'll have to watch for them to go on sale at the end of the season.  Ella really likes having it, and we like having some shade to sit in too.

Our tomatoes took a hit too.  At least the hail didn't last long and they still have their leaves.  Last year our tomatoes got stripped down to sticks 3 times by the hail.  They are loaded with tomatoes.  Once we dry out Colin will try picking the tomatoes back up.  Right now we are still too wet to try.

The crops are happy for the rain.  The sweet corn is definitely happy.  I'm just happy that the house and barns are all still standing (more or less) and the good Lord kept us safe.  This is another reason to like winter.  It's just snow.
We have lots of fresh fish.  I hope everyone can get a bit. 
Andrew will be at Stonegate and our boys are at Riverdale.
Sorry I have to keep it short.

Smoker is done for Tuesday

Andrew made it fishing this morning and I was able to do my smoker. 
Our camera decided to quit the other day so unfortunely we won't have any pictures till we find a replacement. 
Andrew caught a box of fish today.  That fish will be going into the smoker for Thursday's Dufferin Market.  Nice to be back into a regular routine. 
The boys are enjoying their summer break.  Playing soccer in our yard and swimming. 
We had some excitement on Thursday.  Colin and Dad went and picked up our new combine and headers.  Well, it’s new to us.  Considering our old combines are older than Colin, it was time for something newer.

This is a 1976 Gleaner combine.  This seems really old, but it actually has very few working hours on it.  In fact, it has less hours than most newer used combines.  We can easily get parts, so why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new one.  This combine is larger than the old ones and should allow us to nearly double our output.  It will definitely shorten all the ‘down time’ we had with old combines.

Colin is looking forward to harvesting his soybeans.  This combine has a specialty header for soybeans.   It has a large fan that blows the soybeans into the combine.  This will greatly reduce soybeans falling on the ground.  The combine even has air conditioning, a very nice luxury when combining in August!

Our friends Sam and Nick are getting married. Last night there was a Stag and Doe for them.

I've recently learned that Stag and Does are a Canadian (if not Ontarian) phenomenon so an explanation is probably warranted.
A Stag and Doe (or, alternatively, a Buck and Doe) is a celebration thrown on behalf of a bridal party to raise money for the bride- and groom-to-be, in an effort to give them a healthy financial start once they exchange vows. There's usually a DJ and dancing, there is always a bar, a raffle and tons of midway and casino-style games with the proceeds going toward the bridal couple.

I made cupcakes. It was a cowboy theme. Our friends won some vuvuzelas. It was a good night.

Paul and I in our country finest.

Paul participating in the "Great Canadian Whack-Off" game.

John manning the Crown & Anchor table, which he ensured me was "all natural and meat-free"

Us country girls

AJ and Melissa won the coveted World Cup raffle prize, complete with vuvuzelas!

A very rousing karaoke rendition of "Don't Stop Believing"

Good friends, good times, good cupcakes and hopefully a solid lot of money raised for the wonderful couple. I can't wait for the wedding!