Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bread For The Journey



Imagination paints the artist's canvas 
Imagination weaves the author's tale
Imagination carves the sculptor's image 
Imagination builds the craftsman's masterpiece.

Imagination  is a gift God gave us to 'see'  beyond what we can see with our physical eyes.

The photo above is my  amateur attempt at painting 
 a 'hole in the wall' in my en suite,
My en suite doesn't have a window but I wished it did,
so I let my imagination create one.
It lets me see  the blue sky on the other side.of the wall every time I walk into the room.

Our physical senses dictate what we can see and limit us to an earthly view -
 they erect a wall preventing us from perceiving,
what is beyond  the physical reality of this earthly life.

But the Master of all Creation
created a hole in the wall that blocks our view of the heavenly realms.
He sent Jesus!
Whose words and life open to us a window through which we can see and understand
beyond what our physical senses allow,
We can see the invisible God of all eternity ...   
We can see the reality of the spiritual Kingdom of God, 
where the Son always shines, and the possibilities are unlimited. 

"Now to Him, who by His power working in us is able to do
 far beyond anything 
we can ask or imagine."
Ephesians 3:20
(CJB version) 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sour Cherry Pie



My parents moved from their house into a one bedroom apartment and it was time to clean out their giant freezer and use the produce that was in it. My aunt and uncle have a sour cherry tree in their backyard and we usually use the cherries for platz, fruit mooss, or jam, but this time I wanted to bake a good ol' fashioned cherry pie. I was thrilled with the results. I used my favorite pie dough recipe, which makes three double crust pies. I must make a disclaimer first before you try this recipe; our family really likes tart fruit, and one cup of sugar was enough for us, but it may not be for you. You may want to increase the sugar according to your own taste.

Filling:

  • 6 cups pitted and defrosted sour cherries
  • 1 cup white sugar (or more depending on your taste for tartness)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  •  milk or cream and a bit of sugar for the topping, optional
  1. Squeeze all the liquid from defrosted cherries.
  2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extract. I find the almond extract really brings out the cherry flavor. 
  3. Pour into the pie shell, dot with the tablespoon of butter.
  4.  Finish the pie with the top crust, either with your choice of lattice or full crust. I think the lattice looks pretty on a cherry pie exposing the vibrant color. Anneliese gives a tutorial on how to here
  5. Brush the top of the pie with a bit of cream and sprinkle with sugar. 
  6. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. 
  7. Top with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy. 



Friday, April 21, 2017

Kotletten ~ meat balls



It is 'Flashback Friday' and I am re-posting a recipe that I shared here in the very early days of this blog, in June of 2008. Some call them Kotletten or Cutletten and others know them as Klopps, but no matter what you may call them, they are a tasty deep-fried meatball. We had them often in my childhood home, and they were delicious right out of the pan for dinner.  But there were always plenty left for tomorrow, to make sandwiches or for a cold picnic dinner. Now I only make them once a year, for our traditional cold Easter buffet.  They showed up last Sunday on the meat platter, alongside the sliced ham and grilled farmer sausage.  We have been enjoying them 'every which way' this past week, especially at lunchtime sandwiched in a roll with mustard and pickles.
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1-2 slices day-old bread 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium potato, sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  1. Soak bread in water, and wring out excess.
  2. Add the 'soaked bread' to a blender along with all other ingredients except for ground beef, and blend until smooth.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine pureed mixture and ground beef.
  4. Mix well with your hands.
  5. Form meat balls of desired size.
  6. Heat about 1/2 inch oil in frying pan and cook over medium-high heat. 
  7. Turn meat balls over once well browned on the bottom side; cook several minutes longer.
Tip: If not using a blender, grate potato and onion before adding to meat mixture.

My theory is that if I am going to be deep-frying I might as well make it worthwhile, so I did five times this recipe last weekend.  The meatballs not only taste great cold, but can be frozen to use in other dishes.

We'd love to hear your memories of Mennonite meatballs in the comment section.
 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lasagna Soup - Slow Cooker


This soup starts in the slow cooker. If you'd like, you can serve it up in oven proof bowls adding cheese on top and putting it under the broiler until the cheese melts. If you don't want to do that you can add cheese on top without putting it under the broiler. I saw this idea on The Kitchen on Food Network.

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 can 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1 can 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons parsley flakes (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-12 ounces pasta of your choice
  • grated Mozzarella Cheese 
  • sliced Provolone cheese

Method:
  1. Heat oil in frying pan.
  2. Add ground beef and cook thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain the ground beef and set aside on a plate with paper towel to soak up excess oil.
  4. Add onion to the crock pot.
  5. Add the meat on top of the onion.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients except for the pasta and cheeses and stir together.
  7. Cook on high for 6 hours.
  8. Add the pasta and cook for 30 more minutes.
  9. Remove bay leaf and serve in bowls adding grated Mozzarella cheese on top.
  10. Or, fill broiler-proof bowls with soup adding grated Mozzarella cheese on top and one or two slices of Provolone cheese on top of the Mozzarella.
  11. Place under broiler on a baking sheet watching carefully until the cheese melts and starts to brown.
  12. Serve with salad and bread, if desired.
This recipe can serve 8 people generously.





Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sweet Potato / Yam Hash



Pan fried potatoes with fried eggs were a go-to for a quick dinner (fast food) when I was growing up. Maybe that is why, when I saw a version of fried sweet potatoes with eggs, I knew I'd have to try it. Whether you call these yams or sweet potatoes depends on where you live.

Ingredients:
  • 2 - 3 yams, peeled and cubed small (1 - 1 1/2 cups per person)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 6 cups baby kale or spinach
  • 3 - 5 eggs ( 1 - 2 per person)
Method:
  1. In cast-iron or Pyrex pan, mix cubed yams with olive oil and season. Roast at 400 F for about 20 minutes, until soft.
  2. In the meantime, blanch kale or spinach just to soften.
  3. When potatoes are done, stir in the kale or spinach, form little nests and top with eggs. 
  4. Return to oven for about 10 - 12 minutes until egg whites are done. I like to cover with foil or lid for the last few minutes. We prefer soft eggs for an easy hash mix. Bake longer if you like them more done. Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Above recipe serves 2 - 4
Another option is to fry the eggs in a separate pan, to your liking, and serve on top or alongside. Can be served, as is, for brunch or with a meatloaf for dinner.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares (gluten free)


Do we need another delicious, calorie-laden square?  Probably not...but why would that stop us?

I made these squares for my family Easter dinner--a melt in your mouth shortbread base with a rich filling and chocolate layers make these squares delectable.

Base 

  • 3/4 cup softened butter 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups Julie's flour mix (or your own all-purpose gluten free flour) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix dry ingredients. 
  2. Cut in softened butter.
  3. Mix in slightly beaten egg yolks and vanilla. 
  4. Press into 9"x12" cake pan. 
  5. Bake at 350 degrees,  for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
When base is cooled cover with following 
  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 cup butter 
1. Put chips and butter in Pyrex measuring cup and place in a saucepan of simmering water on stove element,  stirring until melted. 

Filling 
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter 
  • 1 - 8-ounce pkg of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar 
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream 
  1. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a mixer and beat until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Spread mixture over chocolate layer. 
Top layer 
  • 2 cups chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream 
  1. Place ingredients into Pyrex measuring cup and place in a saucepan of simmering water on stove element, stirring until melted. 
  2. Carefully spread over top of filling. Refrigerate. 
This square is a good keeper -- store in the fridge. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rosemary Onion Knots


Baking bread is so therapeutic for me; I just love everything about it. The way the dough feels, the way the house smells as it is baking and long after. There is nothing like it.
I tried a new twist on a familiar recipe I have used for a long time, and our family says it is a keeper. Sometimes I like to make flavored rolls to change things up a bit from the usual to serve alongside a simple supper of soup or stew. This recipe makes two dozen but can easily be halved if you only want to make a dozen.
  • 1 tablespoon yeast 
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Allow the yeast to proof for 10 minutes. If you are using instant quick rise yeast just add the dry yeast in with the flour and add the water and honey with the milk and oil. 
  • 5 1/2 - 6 cups flour, approximately
  • 3/4 cups of instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 beaten egg, to brush over the buns before baking
  • poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired to sprinkle on top
  1. Combine 4 cups of the flour with the potato flakes, salt, onion, rosemary.
  2. Add the yeast mixture with the milk and oil.
  3. Knead together for 8 minutes adding more flour as needed to make a soft dough. 
  4. Let rise until double in bulk. About 40 minutes if using instant yeast and 90 minutes if using traditional yeast. 
  5. Divide the dough into 24 balls. 
  6. Roll each ball into an 8" rope and tie into a knot.
  7. Brush with the beaten egg and desired poppy or sesame seed.
  8. Let rise again until double. 20 minutes for quick rise, 45 for traditional yeast. 
  9. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. My oven was 15 minutes. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bread for the Journey

 Why do you look for the living among the dead? 
 He is not here; he has risen! 
Luke 24:5-6 NIV



He's Alive!  That was the the message that the angels gave to the women who arrived at the empty tomb that first Easter morning.  Unbelievable...but true!

He's Alive!  That was the message the women raced off to tell the disciples. The disciples spent the rest of their days sharing this good news with all who would listen.

He's Alive!  That is the message for us today. But what does that mean for me...for you? It means that we have HOPE.  Death is not the end.  Just as Christ rose from the grave, we too can have new life.

Jesus said, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18 NIV. 

I serve a risen Savior. Today I am celebrating his resurrection some 2,000 years later. Today I am singing...Christ the Lord is risen today My Redeemer lives. He's alive and I'm forgiven. Because He lives I can face tomorrow. I will rise.  

Today I am celebrating that 'He's Alive!'  That is the good news of Easter.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Preparations in Lovella's kitchen


Tomorrow is Easter and by now you have likely colored your eggs, set your menu, have your groceries purchased,  made your Paska and have also thought about how you will set your table.  

We had a sibling dinner on Thursday so I am able to show you what our Easter table will look like again tomorrow.  The difference on Sunday will be two leaves added to accommodate the whole family.  



If you want to know how to fold bunny ear napkins... Martha Stewart will show you how!



My favourite flower in spring is Grape Hyacinth that can be found in garden stores in our area this time of year.  In the photo above you can see that I popped a plant into an egg cup and added a label to create a place card. 



These wooden boxes keep changing with the seasons. 
I've lined the wooden boxes with plastic and filled them with dirt.  
It will be an easy cleanup when I want to transplant the English Daisies and Grape Hyacinth outside after Easter. 


I've enjoyed playing around with natural ways to color eggs. 
There is no lack of ideas on Pinterest if you want to know which vegetables are best to use for natural coloring!  


  If you want to avoid food colorings all together, this is an easy idea.  I used a white pen to draw designs on our brown eggs. 



If you are running short on time and can't make it to the garden store, try to use whatever is growing in your yard. One year,  I picked some moss and some weeds with tiny flowers and popped them into these eggs cups to hold the place cards.


If you haven't started baking Paska yet,  I'm happy to tell you it doesn't take as long as you think it might.   Here is the recipe.   

 All you need is
  • an orange
  • a lemon 
  • milk
  • butter
  • yeast
  • flour 
  • salt  
  • sugar. 
It will take about 1/2 - 3/4 hour to mix up the dough, then it will need to rise for an hour.  After it has risen, shape into buns or loaves and then let rise about one more hour.  Bake loaves for about 25 minutes or buns about 15 minutes.  From start to finish you can have Paska in under four hours.  While the Paska is rising, set your table, color some eggs, make the icing and put together your Easter baskets!  





Whatever you do to prepare for Easter, we wish you a most wonderful day celebrating what matters most, the risen Christ!  

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

My Lenten Rose (Hellebore) appears out of the cold hard ground every winter just before the season of Lent. I find it to be a humble plant in that it's beautiful bloom faces down to the earth. I have to get down on my knees to capture a good photo of the beautiful bloom. It is a consistent reminder to me of our Savior and His humility in coming down to earth to live among us in human form. He took on our lowly body to be with us because of His great love for us. When I see my Lenten Rose come up I think of Jesus Christ's humility and obedience to the Father in going to the cross and suffering and dying for all our sins. This is a reminder from nature that draws me to God's truth in His Word, the Holy Bible, which leads me to worship.

Philippians 2: 5-11 (ESV) 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

On this Good Friday 2017 my prayer is that you will turn your eyes to our Savior and accept His sacrifice on the cross in faith, receiving forgiveness for your sins and and a new life of hope for your future in Him.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Peach Mango Ham Steak


If you're still wondering what kind of meat you want to prepare for Easter and if you only have a few people to serve this is the perfect ham dish. It's easy, pretty and delicious! If you have more people to serve, buy more ham steaks and make extra sauce.
This peach mango sauce can also be used over ice cream or in a crisp. So many possibilities.
 Recipe adapted from an old Country Woman magazine.
  • 1 ham steak fully cooked...approx 1 1/2 lbs. It doesn't really matter if it's a little over or under that weight. The one I purchased was approx 1/2" thick.
  • 1 can of sliced peaches (473 ml / 16 oz), drained. Reserve 1/2 cup syrup.
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into strips. I used a medium sized mango but it doesn't really matter.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I use freshly grated, it is more flavorful.)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  1. Grill ham steak just long enough to heat up and to give it nice grill marks. Cover and keep warm while preparing peach mango sauce.
  2. In a medium size bowl (microwave safe) whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, orange juice and reserved peach syrup.
  3. Cook until thickened and smooth, approx 4 minutes, whisking frequently to prevent lumps.
  4. Stir in peach and mango slices.
  5. Pile on top of your ham steak, making sure you get some of the sauce as well. If you have extra, serve at the table for those who would like more fruit.
  6. Serves: 4 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Peach Pie (made with a bag of frozen peaches)





Every now and then we need a taste of summer in the month of April.   I have found that one bag of frozen peaches at the store is a perfect size for one 9 inch pie.    I almost always have discs of pie crust in the freezer which thaw quite quickly if set on the counter for half an hour or so.  

Pie Crust   (makes enough two double-crust pies)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • water

  1. Measure the flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl.
  2. Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is like large oatmeal.
  3. Break the egg into a 1 cup measuring cup, and then beat the egg to break it up.
  4. Add the vinegar to the measuring cup and then fill with water to the 1 cup line.
  5. Slowly stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a fork until just combined.
  6. Turn out onto a floured counter and knead a few times to bring it together into a ball.
  7. Divide into four pieces, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them or freeze them.  Use two pieces for this pie. 
Peach Pie Filling 
  • 1 - 600-gram * bag of frozen peach slices, partially thawed (this would work out to about 5-6 cups) 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons minute tapioca
  1. Stir together sugar, tapioca, and peaches.  
  2. Set aside while you roll out the pie pastry. 
*  approximately 22 ounces since I am not sure what size bag frozen peaches are in the US

To Assemble Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Roll out one disc of pastry on a floured surface until it is large enough to hang over the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.  
  3. Fill with peach pie filling.  
  4. Roll out another disc of pastry and use a pizza wheel or pastry wheel to cut 1/2 inch strips for the lattice.  Lay one strip horizontally, then one strip vertically over the pie and repeat, lifting and tucking strips underneath alternating to make latticework.  Trim crust and turn under and flute the edges.
  5. Wrap the edges of the pie with strips of foil to avoid crust edges from becoming too brown. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the juices are bubbling in the center. 




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes


Short on oven space as you think about the big meal? Put the scalloped potatoes into a slow cooker hours before dinner and forget about them. This recipe is adapted and doubled from the Mennonite Treasury. It goes well with ham or farmer sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups sliced potatoes or 4 lbs mini potatoes
  • 1 thinly sliced large onion
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or 1 can and 1 can cream of celery)
  • 1 can milk or light sour cream (using the empty soup can as a measure)
  • pepper and paprika
Method:
  1. Peel potatoes, if using regular potatoes. If using mini potatoes, no need to peel. 
  2. Slice and place half into buttered slow cooker/crock pot. 
  3. Top with thinly sliced onion.
  4. Mix soup and milk in shaker container and pour half of it over onions.
  5. Repeat with potatoes and the rest of the soup mix.
  6. Sprinkle with pepper and paprika. 
  7. Cook on high heat for 1 hour, then turn down to medium and cook for another 4 hours or until potatoes are soft. You can slow this down (7 hours) by cooking on low/medium heat the whole time or speed it up by cooking on high heat the whole time. Once they are done, keep warm on the lowest setting. Serves 10 - 12 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Grandma's Oatmeal Date Cookies


My Grandma Boldt used to make these thick and chewy Oatmeal Date Cookies.
I came across the recipe in my binder the other day and I remembered sitting at Grandma's big kitchen table writing out the recipe as she gave instructions. I was a teenager back then, already collecting recipes and I'd marked these as "Really Good!!"
She used the large flake oatmeal for them and although I've made them with regular oatmeal, they really are better using the large flake.

Make the Date filling first:
  • 1/2 pound dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Cut up dates and place in a saucepan.
  2. Add water and brown sugar and mix well.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is thick (about 7-10 minutes).
  4. Set aside to cool.
For the cookies:
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 cups large flake oatmeal
  1. Beat together the butter and brown sugar.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients except for oatmeal and mix until blended.
  4. Add oatmeal and mix well.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour or so to make it easier to handle the dough.
  6. Roll out dough on floured board and cut circles. 
  7. Place on cookie sheets and bake at 350ºF for about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove to rack or brown paper and let cool.
  9. Spread date filling generously on one cookie and top with another.
  10. Store in tightly covered container.  The cookies will soften when they are stored.
  11. These cookies also freeze well.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bread for the Journey


Behold Your King!
When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. “If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them, ‘ and immediately he will send them.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.” The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!” When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Matthew 21: 1-11 (NASB)

All Glory, Laud, and Honor
All glory, laud, and honor to you, O Christ we sing,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!
The people of the Hebrews with palms adorned your way;
our praise and prayer and anthems we offer you this day.
All glory, laud, and honor to you, O Christ we sing.
O Promised One of Israel, of David’s royal line,
the one called “God’s beloved,” of flesh and yet divine.
To you before your passion, they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted, our melody we raise.
All glory, laud, and honor to you, O Christ, we sing.
As you received their praises, receive our prayers today,
whose justice and whose mercy and sovereignty hold sway.
All glory, laud, and honor to you, O Christ, we sing,
to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!
All glory, laud, and honor to you, O Christ, we sing!

Theodulph of Orleans, words, trans. John Mason Neale
Melchior Teschner, music (1584-1635)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Peek into Marg's Kitchen



It's always fun to peek into someone's kitchen.  Today I will share some nooks and crannies that will possibly make you smile.  Our home is more than just a kitchen, it's a place where people come together to share life. 

A hallway from the back door brings you right into our kitchen.  And I love to hear the kids walk through the back door and say..."It sure smells good."  As you can see the kitchen flows into the family room giving me a bird's eye view on all the activity.  My cabinets are solid oak from the 90's era.  Any home interior expert would say..."they need to go."  But for now...there are other important things.  Our home is an L-shaped kitchen with an open floor concept which gives room for family and friends.   I also love the windows facing west which give for natural lighting.


The kitchen island expresses who we are, it's functional, practical and the granite counter top serves as a beautiful place to cook and bake or fold laundry, with five bar stools tucked underneath.


Off to the side of our kitchen is a rectangular wooden table with 2 leaf extensions from the ends which can seat fourteen adults comfortably with maybe a squeeze, but that creates the energy.


As you can see, there is lots of natural light and the large patio doors swing open to our back yard where we love to entertain winter and summer.   A natural gas fire pit adds just the extra touch of warmth to any event. This is my happy place.


In the summer our back yard opens up to serve many guests for many celebrative festivities.


Here's a more formal table setting for adults.  This table setting was prepared for Judy's 65th birthday in January.  I have to mention something funny about my husband as he was helping me serve.


While serving, he whispered to me in disgust, "You can't use these old pot holders.  They look horrible. Don't you have something better?"  Of course I had nice new pot holders.  So I gave them to him and he said, "They don't feel  right."  Meanwhile he burnt his hands and I said, "That's why we love the good old used ones because they flow with our hands."  So much for pretty potholders.


When I'm not entertaining, my dining room table can be used as an office.  It lends itself to a great place to spread out invoices, statements and organize them into folders.



A large pantry, with roll out cabinets is perfect and I love my double door fridge with the freezer below.  I like the freezer below except when a toddler opens it and the ice cream melts. I appreciate my double baking ovens with its electric glass cook top.  I value the sleek look of the stove and it's easy to wipe clean.  Just don't burn any sugar on the elements. They stain permanently. 


My large pantry serves more than one purpose.  Other than just storage it becomes a place where children love to explore.  One shelf is designated for children and sometimes I need to nudge them gently to find some other places to play.


My Island is the hub of our kitchen.    It is used for everything that you could imagine.  A Seacco coffee machine, is able to brew you a freshly ground cup of coffee from John's own signature blend which he roasts in his shop.  


A simple child's chair is attached (chicco)  which is so practical.   And what I love about this is that there are no legs attached and it doesn't take up a lot of space.  Plunk the little one in it and you are set.  Easy to clean up and it's perfect for this stage of life.


The island is built with pull out drawers with full extensions.   I love this one drawer for my tupperware bowls with one compartment only for lids.  It's easy to keep organized, when I don't have toddlers, but for now they are having fun.   Obviously, they are both pulling in the wrong direction.


With three young children, safety is a must, so we installed an iron safety gate around the fireplace.  It's taken away the anxiety of seeing small children being burned. 


We have reclaimed oak hardwood flooring which came from one of our farms.  It adds a beautiful finish and I love the simplicity, as they are easy to wipe and clean after we've had a family event.  A large carpet gives a way for the whole family to be seated on the floor as we all watch the little ones play.  There is lots of room for tussling and tossing.


Heated tiles in the kitchen add pleasure to our soles.  Once again with little ones playing on the ground they always notice how nice and warm it is.  How many times the kids come without socks. It's just perfect. I also have a vacumm toe kick plate in the Island and in my mud room, which is a must if you consider remodeling.  


Once again, as I said, our Island is the hub...and as you can see it serves well. 
  • it can serve as a work bench for the men as they assemble rockets.
  • a baking center for two little girls who love baked oatmeal
  • a spot to grow an Easter garden
  • wide open space to unpack all the Easter ornaments.
  • serves as a buffet counter or an eating place for those hungry mouths.
  • many times it serves as a place to change a quick diaper.
  • it's also a spot that provides safety.
Last but not least, the other day I stepped out of the kitchen for a minute and came back inside with a girl on top of the island crying ... and I said "What's wrong?"  Well she had seen a spider on the floor, so as you can see this island has a special spot for all. 


Next week she'll be making Paska with me.
Our island is our gathering place.

What's your favorite spot in your kitchen?


Friday, April 7, 2017

Flashback Friday / Toblerone Cheesecake


I posted this recipe waaaay back in 2008, and used the Kraft photo instead of my own. I have not made it in many years and it was high time to make this again. After having it again I wondered why I waited so long! Our dinner guest enjoyed it so much that even though it is a rich dessert, people asked for seconds.
I am sorry for the blurry picture but before I had a chance to retake pictures the cake was devoured in no time flat. The recipe originally comes from Kraft, but I revised it and included the changes I made.


Prep time:20 minutes Chilling time:8 hours or overnight


  • 1 1/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 packages (250g each) cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 bars (100g each) Toblerone Chocolate, chopped (I used 4 bars and divided the extra bar between the filling and the topping) 
  • 1/2 cup, whipping cream equals about 1 cup whipped cream. Make a bit of extra if you want to decorate the top. (original recipe calls for a frozen whipped topping, but I prefer the real thing) 
  • 1/4 cream for the ganache (original recipe said to use a 1/2 cup of melted coolwhip.
  1. Combine chocolate crumbs and melted butter.
  2. Press onto bottom of a 9 inch (23 cm) springform pan.
  3. Chill. Beat cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until very smooth.
  4. Stir in chocolate one bar of the chocolate chopped into bite size pieces.
  5. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
  6. Spoon into springform pan. Chill 8 hours.
Ganache:

  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 bar (100 g) Toblerone Chocolate (milk or dark), chopped
  1. Using a double boiler, bring cream to a simmer over low heat, remove.
  2.  Add chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Cool.
  3. Pour over cake and place in refrigerator, or pour over each slice as it is served.
  4. Decorate with remaining whipped cream and chocolate bar.
Serves 8 - 12

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reuben Roll Ups


These reuben roll up are simple to make and very tasty. You can use crescent rolls from a package or try making them on the day you are baking buns and have dough available. These roll ups are good dipped in thousand island dressing. If you don't have the dressing in your fridge it's simple to prepare.
Adapted slightly..from the recipe found here.
  • 1 package of 8 crescent rolls
  • 1/2 cup (approx) thousand island dressing
  • 8 slices of corned beef
  • 4 slices of swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and lightly squeezed dry
  1. Unroll and divide the crescent rolls.
  2. On each roll spread approx 1 tablespoon of dressing, 1 slice of corned beef, 1/2 slice of cheese and approx 2 tablespoons sauerkraut.
  3. Roll up like a butterhorn starting from the wide end.
  4. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake in a 350º oven for 20 minutes or golden in color.
  6. *Use any leftover thousand island dressing for dipping the roll ups.
Homemade dressing:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 - 4 dashes of sriracha (hot sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons hot dog relish
  1. Whisk together ingredients until combined. 
  2. Store in fridge until ready to use.
  3. Yield: 8 roll ups

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Pina Colada Sweet Rolls


 
Sweet rolls with a pineapple and coconut filling are a perfect spring time coffee break treat.

Pineapple Filling: (make first so it has a chance to completely cool)
  • 1 14 oz can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Put crushed pineapple in a microwaveable bowl. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients except butter. Stir well.
  3. Heat in microwave 2 minutes at a time until mixture thickens.
  4. Remove and stir in butter. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the sweet dough.
Sweet Dough: (Yields 14-16 rolls)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons oil 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 1/2-4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoons quick rise yeast
  1. Place first 7 ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. Beat well. Heat until warm to the touch.
  2. In a large bowl stir together flour and yeast.
  3. Pour warm wet mixture over dry mixture. 
  4. Stir until it begins to come together and then using your hand knead, adding flour as needed to make a soft but not overly sticky dough. 
  5. Cover, allow to rise for 45 minutes or until double in bulk.
  6. Roll dough out to 10"x18".
  7. Spread with cooled pineapple mixture. Roll up. 
  8. Slice rolled up log into 14-16 equal pieces and place on greased baking pan. 
  9. Rolls do not require a second rise. Just let them sit while the oven heats up. 
  10. Bake in 350º oven for 15-20 minutes.
Rolled up and ready to slice. My mom used to use thread to slice sweet rolls. It slides easily under dough and gives a nice clean cut...and you never have to worry about scratching your work service with a sharp knife. Just slide thread under roll, cross over and pull. Perfect slices!

Frosting:

  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk, plus 
  1. Beat together all ingredients until you get a smooth spreadable frosting. Add a drop of milk more if too thick or a little more powdered sugar if too runny.
  2. Spread frosting on slightly warm rolls. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Farmer Sausage Soup


We have a restaurant here in the Fraser Valley that serves a great farmer sausage soup...using ground smoked sausage.  I recently discovered that one can remove the raw farmer sausage from the casing and then brown the meat as a base for this soup.  We quite enjoyed it!

  • 1 pound raw farmer sausage (or any similar smoked sausage)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cups water 
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cups corn (frozen or canned, kernels or cream corn)*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  1. Slit casing of raw farmer sausage and remove the meat by scraping it out with a tablespoon. (If the sausage is not 'raw meat', finely chop before sautéing.)
  2. In a Dutch oven or soup pot, saute sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. 
  3. Add the water, potatoes,carrots, celery, salt, pepper, basil and cayenne. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the corn and heat through.
  5. Using a wire whip, combine flour and milk and stir mixture into soup. Add grated cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until soup returns to a boil. Cook several minutes longer to melt cheese and thicken slightly.  
*I like to use one can of corn kernels and one can of creamed corn.