Heating up the kitchen

I’ve been so busy lately I forgot to post this entry from two weeks ago.

Finally a break in the weather. The past two weeks have been extremely hot and humid. Our heat pump decided to break down just as the mass of hot sticky air moved into the Maritimes. As if the weather and broken down air conditioner weren’t enough, Himself and I decided it was time to start canning our abundance of produce.
Actually I decided and Himself was smart enough to just nod his head in agreement having barely survived the” hot flash” years.
We canned blueberry syrup and blueberry concentrate after purchasing a five pound box of blueberries at the local growers for $13.00. Himself also brought home a 10 pound bag of raked blueberries for $3.00. He thought it was a wonderful bargain until it came time to pick out the twigs and leaves.
We spent a hot and steamy Sunday in the kitchen cutting, dicing, sterilizing and preparing 9 pints of three bean salad. When you consider the time spent, including the cost of energy, there really isn’t much of a saving. The joy comes in seeing the finished bottles sitting in the pantry, made by hand from your own pesticide free garden grown produce.
Months from now in the deep dark days of winter, when a bottle of preserves is retrieved from the cold room, the reassuring “pop” when the lid opens and that first taste will make it all worth- while.

The recipe for three bean salad can be found here


It’s a wrap

Finally after posting about this quilt no less than 5 times since 2009, Summer Trellis is done.

No one can call me a quitter, considering I’ve been working on this quilt since 2001. A procrastinator maybe, but never a quitter. After looking closely at the seams on this light weight quilt, I’m surprised people call me a quilter. There are a few seams I will need to redo. Boy have I learned a lot about sewing through trial and error.
I really think it’s the quilt’s fault. I finished the top last fall, after my daughter forced helped me put all of my UFO’s (unfinished objects) in separate bags with clear notes detailing what had to be done for completion. Andrea, blessed child that she is, threatened cajoled me into promising that I would not begin another quilt under I finished the ones I had started .
I laboured and successfully completed the pile. This pretty little quilt was delivered to Andrea along with the rainbow quilt, Julia’s Christmas quilt and a few others. She finished the rest in record time but never got around to Summer Trellis.
It’s a true summer time quilt with a thin sheet for batting, hence light enough to use on your bed in the summertime. Andrea enjoys free motion quilting but with a thin batting her choices were limited.
Finally last month with my birthday looming ahead and no present bought, Andrea did the next best thing. She finished the quilt and gave it to me for my birthday. Aren’t I blessed to have such a thoughtful daughter?

And don’t I have the cutest assistant?


Hodge podge

hodge podgeGrowing up I don’t remember eating hodge podge.   I do remember everyone talking about it though, the minute new potatoes and vegetables hit the farmer’s markets.

I can not remember making a pot of it ever.  Today all that has changed.  Himself is an incredible gardener.   We have an over abundance of veggies, tri colour carrots, pod peas, sugar peas, beets, green beans, tri-colour beans, Swiss chard, kale, the three sisters (corn, pole beans and squash).  Not to mention onions (red and white) cucumbers, 4 varieties of tomatoes, tat soi, filet beans, and spaghetti sauce.  I’ve probably forgot a few, there is so much growing in our garden.    Between each row of veggies, is a row of flowers for the bee pollinators, we have a bee hive as well.

How blessed we are to eat pesticide free vegetables 5 minutes from earth to table.

I followed the recipe for Maritime Hodge Podge at  http://laurastastes2011.blogspot.ca/2013/08/maritime-hodgepodge.html ,

She stated  “If you haven’t made hodgepodge before, here is a simple recipe you can use as a guideline”.  

The hodge podge was delicious, especially served with fresh white bread made by our 92 year old friend.


Sweet dreams are made of this……….

Living in a small home, storage space is at a premium.   One soon learns to find it where one can.   Our bedrooms have built in floor to ceiling book cases, over every door a shelf has been built to hold items not required on a daily basis.  If there is a space we build a closet or a shelf.

Underneath my bed was a wasteland for dust bunnies (sometimes multi-generational) and bins of fabric.   When I recently decided to downsize my bed size (queen to a double) to save floor space, I decided to up rise the bed.

Luckily, we know a carpenter who understands what I want built better than I could ever express.  Armed with a vague plan and a lot of arm waving, I was able to describe the bed of my dreams.   The bed had to be solid wood, with huge drawers to hide bedding and next season’s clothing.  It had to be a particular height as well for when I’m old and feeble I just want to back into my bed and flop. The bed had to be built in two sections for easy carrying in case we ever move.  And the colour had to be between mahogany and American oak.


And due to my allergies, it had to be stained and painted inside and out before being delivered.  Himself had a only two requests, it had to be sturdy with no knobs protruding.  Apparently he thinks I cram dresser drawers too full and that I curse like a sailor whenever I stub my toe on a bed frame.


John hit all the marks with his carpentry skills.


He even built a frame for the bed to sit on. It’s the perfect size for my feet to slide under, not a stubbed toe in sight.




It’s official, after spending the past few evenings moving fabric from upstairs to my newly built basement sewing room, there is not doubt about it.    I suffer from an extreme and highly contagious case of SABLE.  Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy. My sewing room runneth over with bins, boxes and bags of scraps.

Last Saturday it became apparent that my daughter Andrea is suffering from the same inflection.  We traveled to Fredericton to celebrate my son in law Ron’s 50th birthday.   Lunch consisted of Chinese take away (so Andrea and I could check out the craft sale at the mall).  The birthday celebration came to an abrupt end when Andrea and I left to take in the Fredericton Quilters Guild Symphony of Spring quilt show.  This was followed by more stash buying at our favourite shop, Christmas Crab Quiltery.

Before, during and after the celebration Andrea and I talked about fabric, fondled fabric, ogled quilts, reviewed fabric on line, purchased more fabric and added quilt ideas to our long suffering “Quilts I’ll make before I die” list.

I forgot to mention that the visit was also in honour of Andrea’s 45th birthday (earlier in the month).  And what did I give her, a gift certificate to Sew Sisters.   What the heck, if SABLE is incurable we may as well enjoy it.

Speaking of fabric stash, here’s the completed Strip Off quilt sent to Julia last Christmas.  I completed the top (barely denting my fabric stash) and Andrea did the quilting.    Each block was quilted with a different pattern and a whole lot of love.

Julia's quilt backing Julia's quilt





If you like pina colada

Thirty years ago a trip to Calais was a big deal.  At Easter time especially as the American candy was so different from what we could buy in Canada.   I chummed with fine ladies who would always travel south to Calais on Good Friday for the novel Easter treats.  Our first stop would be the local IGA bakery to buy Pina Colada muffins to eat on the trip home.

Through the years I have been trying numerous recipes to duplicate these delicious muffins all without success.  Until now!  I found this recipe in a Robin Hood mini magazine that arrived with the local paper.   The original recipe uses a mini muffin pan or  12 large muffins.  I use the small loaf pan.  I replaced the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt and added a cherry on top.  Apparently the muffins freeze quite well  but the ones I baked never made it to the freezer.   These make a perfect Easter treat without having to declare duty!

Pina Colada muffins

    • 1 cup flour
    • 3/4 cup oats
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon rum extract
    • 1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
    • 1/2 cup flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.
  3. Combine first 5 dry ingredients.
  4. Beat remaining ingredients together in large bowl until smooth.
  5. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened.
  6. Fill greased muffin cups.
  7. Bake at 350ºF for 18 – 23 minutes, or until golden.

IMG_7383 IMG_7387

Don’t forget the sun screen

It’s a balmy 9 degrees at the Point and Himself is itching to start gardening.  Despite the few feet of snow covering the field, he had to get his “garden” fix.   This was the scene a couple of weeks ago when he went searching for the cold frames.  Buried under a pile of snow waist high they were not easy to find.


We enjoyed fresh greens from the cold frames right up to Christmas Day.  Shortly after that between the snow and a vole who thought he found the perfect place to live for the winter, we stopped harvesting.


Today with renewed determination and probably a bit of sun stroke brought on by the beautiful weather, Himself once again trudged through the snow.

Armed with a thermometer he tested the inside air temperature.  It was an incredible 35 degrees Celsius, he dug down 4 or 5 inches and the soil was 19 degrees.  No sign of the vole though, it’s probably suffering from sun stroke too.


To quilt or not to quilt

March is national quilting month with the 21st designated as National Quilting Day. Martingale Publishers recently suggested quilters reveal their bucket list quilt. You know that one quilt that if the stars aligned, the fabric was perfect and the world stopped spinning long enough for you to have a day to quilt.

I have three bucket list quilts, 7 sister, a scrappy Irish chain quilt and a postage stamp quilt. The rest of the quilts I intend to make fall into one of these days I’ll get around to do list.

In our house March has been designated as “not much quilting going on around here” month. But that’s not bad news as the reason is I am finally getting a sewing room. Himself and I have debated long and hard as to how to incorporate a sewing space into our small home. Originally I thought it would be easy to spread out my projects and leave everything in the open to work on when the mood struck.

Living in a small home you need to be tidy, or the entire house looks written off. The bedroom is a pile of carefully sorted boxes of fabric, quilt magazines, baskets of unfinished projects, the list goes on and on.

The pantry is a great place to leave the cutting board but that it doesn’t work too well with cookie dough dropped on it.

Himself was to build the room with the help of my middle grand daughter. After much more debating rational minds preserved and we decided to hire a carpenter.

Construction began yesterday. The carpenter is also building a platform bed with massive storage drawers. I might be getting a sewing room but I still need loads of space to store my fabrics and UFOS.


A gem of a recipe


With all the cold and snow lately every one needs an extra boost of vitamin C and what better way to get it then with lemon marmalade. I’m a huge lemon fan. I’ll drink hot water and lemon until my teeth ache. Lemon slices marinated in honey is my favourite way to ward off a cold.  Lemon pie, lemon bread, lemon yogurt cake. Don’t even get me started on lemon Greek yogurt.

On Friday I stayed in town after work to visit with a good friend. After a fine supper of fish chowder, she set out a platter of fresh tea biscuits and an assortment of homemade jams and jellies to enjoy with our tea. The highlight  was lemon marmalade. What a treat. It’s sweet and sharp all at the same time. Perfect with tea biscuits, I know it will be a great sauce drizzled over pound cake topped off with fresh whip cream. The original recipe called for oranges but lemons are better.  One pound of sugar equals 2 cups.  I halved the recipe and used 5 cups of sugar, making 8 cups of marmalade.


– 2 pounds  organic lemons
– Wash and cover  lemons with water and bring to a boil
– Simmer with lid on until skins are tender
– When cold, remove from water (save water)
– Cut fruit in half and scoop out (don’t throw away anything)
– Separate seeds from the fruit and the pith
– Strain and save the liquid from the fruit and pith and throw away the pith.
– Boil the seeds in all the saved water for 10 minutes
– Cut rinds however you like for the marmalade

– Remove seeds from the water, add about 4 lbs of sugar (taste it) and boil ’til it reaches jelly stage with a thermometer or test it on a cold plate to see how it runs…add chopped rinds nearer to the end to avoid turning them into ‘leather’.

Usually I put my jams and jellies in a hot water bath but my friend insures me the marmalade stores very well in the refrigerator.



Another day of fine cooking

It is plus 5 in the sun on the east side of our home.  And wait for it………………it’s not snowing!  For the first time in a few weeks we awoke to a bright and sunny Sunday morning.

Sunday is my day to cook and bake (it’s a great way to avoid housework).  Each Saturday morning I write out the menu for the upcoming week.  Sunday is the day to cook anything that needs extra time, that can easily be reheated through the week.

Today’s choice is Beef barley and butternut squash stew from the Oct/Nov 2010 edition of Fine Cooking magazine.


Arugula, Carrot & Celery Root Almond salad is suggested for the side.  Luckily  I just happen to have purchased a bag of Arugula yesterday.   In the fall Himself planted argula in the cold frames.  We harvested and enjoyed this incredible green until Christmas Day.  I can’t wait for spring and our first crop of arugula.

The original magazine includes a recipe for Blue Cheese croutons but I’ll serve the stew with buttermilk tea biscuits.  These were made by my friend’s 92 year mother and are as light as angel’s wings.

Neither Himself or I are non- drinkers.  The wine in the stew gives the smell of a brewery to the house.   We are not big beef eaters either, but happen to have a piece of chuck from our purchase of organic hamburger.

Years ago I purchased a cast iron dutch oven which is the perfect dish for braising recipes.   The stew will be ready when we returning from snow shoeing this afternoon.

Enjoy your Sunday, I know we will.