Friday, February 28, 2014

Homestead Vanilla Pudding

2 1/2 cups milk (whole is best but low-fat works fine)
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole vanilla pod cut into two or three pieces

Pour 2 cups of the milk (reserve 1/2 cup for later) and pieces of vanilla pod into medium saucepan.  On medium low, heat milk to warm.  Do not boil.   
Add in sugar and mix.

In another bowl, to the reserved 1/2 cup of milk add cornstarch and egg yolks.  Whisk until smooth.
Pour egg/cornstarch mixture into warm milk and vanilla.  Turn up heat slightly and stir constantly until pudding is thickened.

Serve warm or chilled.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cream Cheese Cucumber Dip

1/2 cup Philadelphia cream cheese spread (tub)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried dill weed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons milk (can be adjusted to desired consistency of dip)
1 green onion chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber (English works well)

Combine first six ingredients in bowl.  Whisk until blended.
Mix in cucumber.  Serve with crackers, vegetables or use as a spread for wraps or sandwiches.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Off the Grid

It is now cool (and necessary) to be environmentally conscious.  There is a growing trend towards living an organic and Eco-conscious way of life or in other words, getting off the grid.  The one hundred mile diet, the urban farm, chickens in the city, vegetable gardens anywhere you can grow them, composting and recycling are all responsible and common sense lifestyle choices that would no doubt benefit the community you live in. 
Interested, but don’t know where to start acquiring the pure knowledge, the history and experience of people who have already gone down that path?  Try hunting for and acquiring as many Western Producer Prairie Book memoirs as you can...and read.  You will most likely have to go online, scour used book and thrift stores and if you’re lucky, you might be able to find one of those rare prairie settler memoirs by Nell Wilson Parsons, Isabel M. Reekie ( Bella Melvin Reekie)  or Edna Jaques.                                                                                      


You will read about how the old prairie settlers homesteaded, put down roots in nothing but pure soil, dense bush and thick grass.  You will read about how the real pioneers built homes, broke and cleared land and grew crops.  You will read about prairie fires, deaths of friends - human and animal alike, household chores, trips to town, the gathering of berries, mushrooms and wildflowers and the humility and pride of building a life from under the prairie ground all the way on up to the tip of the hip roofed barn.  

From there, you know that anything can be done anywhere and you can adjust to suit your modern lifestyle.

“Western Producer Prairie Books was established as an independent department of the newspaper ‘Western Producer’ in 1975.” (

The Western Producer itself began publishing books in 1954.  In 1991 Western Producer Prairie Books was sold to Douglas and McIntyre of Vancouver which started the imprint Greystone Books.  

 In 2013, Heritage House Publishing acquired Greystone Books from D&M.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Worth A Second Look - Aprons

The initial purpose of the common kitchen apron was to protect the clothing underneath.  When women had limited wardrobes and the process of doing laundry was long and tedious, the apron was a practical necessity in the kitchen.  Nowadays, we rarely wear structured or formal dress, so when we find ourselves covered in bacon grease or cake flour, we simply rip off our casual clothing and throw it into the washing machine.

Thing is, aprons can serve more than one purpose AND aprons can be stylish and fun.

Aprons can be used to:
  • carry things (apples from the yard, veggies from the garden, eggs from the hen house..etc)
  • wipe things (spilled food on stove or counter, kids' faces...etc)
  • dry things (your hands, dishes)
  • transfer hot pots and  pans; a potholder 
  • cover stains on clothing when impromptu company arrives (the fancy aprons could be left on all evening)
  • perk up your boring wardrobe
  • give as gifts
There are different types of aprons:
  • Chef or Butcher's apron - a one piece straight skirt and bib.
  • Smock - sort of like a dress.  Can be with or without sleeves
  • Half apron - waist down
  • Full apron - covers the whole front
  • Cobbler apron - covers front and back 
  • Pinafore - stylish apron usually on casual day wear
  • Princess Apron - a full apron with no waist seam with bib and skirt
There are so many incredible apron designers who create fun and practical aprons.  Check these out:


Jessie Steele

Kitsch'n Glam

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Microwave Shelf/Tea Center

Other than for melting butter or warming up leftovers, the microwave has never been an essential appliance in our kitchen.  So when ours went on the blink, I opted to not replace it and used the space instead, as a tea center.

With a variety of loose tea flavors in mason jars stacked in rows at the back, I've added jars of sweeteners, a teapot, a jar of spoons, a candle and tree mug to the shelf.  

Haven't missed the microwave yet.

TSK Book Review: Donna Hay SEASONS the best of Donna Hay Magazine

Donna Hay Seasons
HarperCollins Publisher: 2009

We can't all get out to the country or the seaside.  The city is where we roam, but it doesn't mean that we don't love the style, the sensation and the sustenance of being out on the farm, on the beach or deep in the hinterland.  Donna Hay's Seasons helps us to connect good food with good times by teaching us to add parmesan twists to a spring picnic and to indulge in spinach and feta pies as a light summer lunch.  It takes us into the hinterland in the fall with a rhubarb and vanilla lattice pie and warms us in winter with cheesy oregano chicken rolls.

Images of rustic furniture, vintage cutlery, dishware and mason jars filled with sweet and savoury foods make Seasons a real comfort book for those lazy days at home.  In my opinion, it can't be a good cookbook without exceptional photography to compliment the recipes.  Seasons is worthy of a permanent place on your coffee table.  My favorite recipe: Tzatziki

Monday, February 17, 2014

TSK Profile: Children's Author and Illustrator Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry was born in Boston Massachussets on June 5, 1919.  The son of storekeepers, Richard grew up a comfortable and happy child.  He left Boston's Museum of Fine Arts School to join the army and was posted in North Africa in the Morale Services Section of Allied Forces HQ.  After the war, Richard married Patricia Murphy and began writing and illustrating children's books, beginning with "Rabbit and His Friends" and "Great Big Car and Truck Book" in 1951.  He and his family moved to Switzerland in 1972.  He passed away on April 30th, 1994.  In his legacy, his son continues to write books for children.

Richard Scarry, (2012) Retrieved 04:07, February 17, 2014 from

Richard Scarry's illustrations depict anamorphic characters in scenes set mostly in the mid-twentieth century.  As Richard grew up in the depression era, many of his illustrations reflect the lifestyle of and appearance of that time. Many of his characters are dressed in old-fashioned (maybe even inspired by the Swiss?) attire and are unique and recognizable to his style.  The choice of color and texture in his illustrations are warm and natural.  His (and his wife Patricia's) stories are simple and easy for his young readers to understand.  His early books are real treasures to collect and read to your children and grandchildren.

Top 10 Richard Scarry Stories/Illustrations/Poems:
  1. The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
  2. Best Mother Goose Ever: There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
  3. I Am a Bunny
  4. The Bear's Farm (Best Word Book Ever)
  5. Is This the House of Mistress Mouse?
  6. Good Night Little Bear
  7. The Rabbit Family's House (Best Word Book Ever)
  8. Chipmunk's ABC
  9. Best Mother Goose Ever: Elsie Marley
  10. Just For Fun

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cranberry Smoothie

1/2 cup cranberry sauce (See Cranberry Sauce Recipe November 15, 2013 Post)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt 
1 small chopped banana
2 tablespoons honey

Blend and enjoy!
Add more milk if consistency is too thick.

Did you know....
One cup of whole cranberries have 23 calories and are packed with fiber, manganese, vitamins C, E and K, copper and pantothenic acid.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Born Cook

A Born Cook

She had a way with salads,
A way of cooking rice,
An extra touch to cooking meat,
That made it extra nice.
A loving pat to buns and bread,
That seemed to make them rise,
As white and soft as thistledown,
And more than twice their size.
She had a way of sealin' in,
The covers of a pie,
That kept the juices all inside,
The crusts all crisp and dry.
She'd crimp the edges neat as wax,
Then cook it long and slow,
Until it had that special taste,
That all old timers know.
I've seen her frying doughnuts,
In an old black iron pot,
The golden circles bubbling up,
Rich and sizzling hot.
The kitchen filled with warmth and cheer,
Fragrant with mace and clove,
With cheeriness just belching out
From that old fashioned stove.
And when I see new fangled ways,
I wonder how it feels,
To sit down at the end of day,
To skimpy modern meals.
I'll take my grub old fashioned thanks,
For taste instead of style,
Thus fortified I'll face the world
And neighbors with a smile.
- Edna Jaques
- Photo from Saskatchewan!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Toasted Oatmeal

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups quick rolled oats (My favorite brand is Only Oats Pure Whole Grain Quick Oat Flakes)
4 cups water
salt to taste

In a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter.  Add rolled oats, stir to coat and slightly brown.  Be careful not to burn.  Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer.  Stir until water has evaporated and oatmeal is tender and to desired consistency.

Serve hot with Milk and brown sugar or fruit, nuts, jam or syrup.


"Oat groats are the whole oat kernels with the hull removed.

Rolled oats are made from oat groats that have been steamed to allow them to pass through the roller mills without cracking and breaking.  Can be in Instant, Quick, Old Fashioned and Extra Thick forms.

Steel Cut oats are made from oat groats that have been chopped into two or three pieces.

Scottish Oats are ground on stone mills from whole oat groats.  They are not rolled or cut but ground.  Scottish oats are the 'true oatmeal' or porridge.  It's creamy, thick and almost instant when combined with boiling water."

Source: Steel Cut, Rolled, Instant, Scottish? by Cassidy Stockton

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Photography of Jacklyn Waronek

"Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe in photographs."
- Ansel Adams

Monday, February 10, 2014

How To Make Butter in a Mason Jar

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 pint or 500 ml canning jar with a tight fitting lid

Pour the cream into the canning jar.

Secure lid and shake vigorously.

The butter will begin to appear (depending on how hard your shake, it can take up to 10 to 15 minutes) and the buttermilk (a cloudy liquid) will separate from the solid lump of butter.

Carefully pour out the buttermilk and add a small amount of cold water to the jar.  Shake and pour out the liquid.  Repeat until the water is clear.

Set the cheesecloth over a container (I used a medium sized Tupperware container with lid) to drain any excess water that may still be in the clump of butter and place in refrigerator.

When the butter begins to solidify, salt to taste and serve.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

TSK Book Review: The Romantic Prairie Cookbook by Fifi O Neill

Title: The Romantic Prairie Cookbook
Author: Fifi O'Neill
Photographs: Mark Lohman
Publisher: CICO Books
Date Published: 2012

An excellent collection of warm and simple recipes of which inspire me to want to include many of them into the planning of my future family meals.

From a simple Old-fashioned Lemonade recipe to Kale Chips to a Deep-fried turkey, most of the recipes are easy to prepare and plate.  The majority of the ingredients could be found, if not from your own garden, then certainly from your own local grocery store.

The photographs in the book complement each recipe and the setting pure country; images of lush green prairie fields and picnic tables set against the backgrounds of lavender gardens, old red barns and chicken coops.  For most recipes there multiple photographs and the presentation of each dish is beautifully rustic and as easy as its Lemon Sour Cream Pie.

My favorite recipe: Old-fashioned Chive butter.      

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Simple Farmhouse Cream Dressing

The most basic and best of all garden salad dressings.

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar

Mix cream, sugar and vinegar in medium sized bowl.  You can adjust the level of sweetness by adding or subtracting the amount of sugar.

"Simplicity is a key to avoiding complication.  Part of the definition of simplicity is 'not complex or complicated; sincere.' "
                                         - Joyce Meyer

Friday, February 7, 2014

Worth A Second Look - Summer Kitchens

I'm not talking about the modern, furnished patio that sports a six burner propane barbeque and couch and loveseat set that's barely worthy of the interior of most regular homes.  I'm talking about a separate building with a refrigerator and stove (microwave and other modern appliances optional), adorned by cupboards and/or shelves with lots of storage, with sufficient counter space and even a table and chair set to sit and sip iced tea while the meal is cooking or the jars are being processed.

Back in the day, summer kitchens were most commonly old granaries, chicken coops or other types of out buildings that were renovated to suit the culinary needs of the farm or ranchers cook. In the spring, the old coal and wood stoves were moved out to the summer kitchen where the combination of the high temperatures of the season mixed with the humidity of the cook stove were kept separate from the main house.  I imagine that it would have been desirable to leave the mess that comes with preparing and cooking away from the main house as well.

Even now, modern central air conditioning has a tough time competing with the challenges of indoor cooking during the summer months and the mess does not do anything for the decor.  The idea of having a lovely little summer kitchen - with a little flower box full in the window - sounds like it's worth a second look to me.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Best Friends

"Best friends don't let you do stupid things....alone."
- Grimm

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lemon Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup grated lemon zest
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4  to 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar in bowl.  Add eggs and lemon zest.  Mix well.  Mix flour, baking powder, soda and salt in separate bowl then add to creamed butter and sugar.  Add lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla.  Mix well with beater.

Grease two loaf pans and line bottom with parchment paper.  Divide batter into two pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 to 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Ice with favorite frosting or glaze.