Wednesday, March 30, 2011


When I plan ahead, I like to be able to marinade meat I am going to cook.  While browsing cookbooks and the Internet, I decided to make this marinade based on a variation of a number of recipes.   I used these portions to marinade ten medium size chicken thighs.  I mix the marinade in a zip lock bag and toss the chicken thighs into the bag.  I place the bag in the fridge for a couple of hours before roasting or grilling the meat.  Every hour or so I turn the bag over so that all sides of the meat gets coated.  I think this marinade is good for any cut of meat.


¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)

Mix marinade in a zip lock bag and add the meat.  Refrigerate for several hours before cooking.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


A few weeks ago I went to hear a lecture by Lorna Vanderhaeghe.  Her company manufactures supplements and vitamin products.  Her lecture was very interesting and was listened by about 200 women and a few men in the audience.  She spoke on a number of health issues including exercising and making time in your day to exercise.  One way that Lorna exercises is by rebounding on her mini trampoline for 30 minutes a day while watching the evening news on her television.  She made the exercise sound fun.

I shared the contents of the lecture with friends including the rebounding exercise.  One friend was familiar with rebounding and its benefits as she likes to exercise on her family's backyard trampoline.  I did some research on rebounding and found out a number of interesting facts.  Rebounding or bouncing is great for your lymphatic system, is a good cardio exercise, much easier on your joints than doing these exercises on a hard surface, good for your mobility and balance, burns calories and is fun.

It didn't take long to convince me that bouncing on a mini trampoline or rebounder would be an exercise that I could benefit from.  The mini trampoline can be used anywhere in the house as it is not a large piece of exercise equipment.  I purchased a 42 inch mini trampoline and both myself and the DH are using it.  There are many videos on You Tube which describe different exercises you can do.  The exercises I have been doing include running (on the spot of course), skipping (but without the actually rope), jumping jacks, bouncing from side to side and doing quarter turns, and generally having fun.  I feel like a kid again and just having some fun bouncing around.


Friday, March 25, 2011


While browsing through the March edition of Alive magazine I found this recipe for vegetarian baked beans.  I like baked beans and this recipe looked simple to make and I had all of the ingredients in the cupboard.  The flavouring of the baked beans was very nice and I would make this recipe again.

What I have been finding when cooking dried beans, is that older beans take a lot longer to cook.  I know I have beans stored in air tight jars that are older than five or six years.  I am finding that when I use beans that I purchased a number of years ago, it takes a lot longer to cook them.  I do soak the beans in a big pot of water overnight before I cook them but that doesn't change the issue for these old beans.  While browsing the Internet on this very question of old beans, some sites have suggested to add baking soda to the soaking water when using old beans.  I haven't tried that yet.  Here are some photos from preparing the dish.

Navy beans draining after soaking overnight in a pot of water.
Chopped onions and apricots.
The molasses, spices and chopped onions and apricots.
I used whole tomatoes in the recipe.
Layering of ingredients in the crock pot. 

Addition of the molasses mixture to the crock pot.
Ready to eat.


2 cups dried navy beans
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup ketchup
3 tbsp maple syrup or agave
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 medium onions, chopped
8 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1- 28 oz can of diced or whole tomatoes


Soak the beans overnight in a large pot of water.  The next morning, drain the water from the beans, place the beans in a colander and rinse the beans under cold running water.  Set aside to drain.

In a small bowl mix the pepper, basil and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, mix together the boiling water, oil, molasses, ketchup, maple syrup and cider.

Place half of the beans in the bottom of the crock pot.  Sprinkle half of the onions and apricots over the beans followed by half of the spices and half of the canned tomatoes.  Repeat sequence with the second half of the various ingredients.  Pour the water mixture over the top of the bean mixture making sure the liquid is mixed in.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours or until the beans are soft.  Makes 8 to 10 cups.

Adapted from Alive Magazine, March 2011.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The dog, being a lab, always wants to have something in his mouth.  Nothing is better than a tennis ball. His love in life is for you to throw the ball, he retrieves it, brings it back, drops the ball by your feet and wants you to throw the ball again.  I think half the tennis balls sold in stores are not for humans playing tennis but are really for the dogs. 

There is even something even better than tennis balls!

What does he have in his mouth?

Life is really good when you have both a glove and a tennis ball in your mouth.  The dog thinks life is perfect when he has a glove in his mouth and he gets to chase and retrieve a tennis ball at the same time. Of course his owner is without glove which has its own cold challenges.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Many people that I know eat oatmeal for breakfast.  When asked what kind of oatmeal, they will indicate a range from flavoured oatmeal in a pouch to old fashioned to steel cut to scottish oats.  I prefer a steel cut oat to a rolled oat.  Steel cut oatmeal has a more nutty taste.  The steel cut oat is made by chopping the oat grain while a rolled oat occurs when the oat grain is rolled and becomes flat in shape.  Because of the processing method to chopped versus rolled, a chopped oat can take longer to cook.  Amy Jo Ehman has written a post on her blog about oats and describes the differences between the different oats.

I am sometimes pressed for time in the morning and having the time to cook steel cut oats can be challenging.  To make life easier, I soak the steel cut oats for six to eight hours prior to cooking.  Soaking before cooking really does shorten the cooking time.  By pre-soaking the oats, cooking time is about 10 to 12 minutes.  I will also make a large batch which will make four to five portions.   Heating up an individual portion in the microwave for breakfast is pretty easy.  If I am planning ahead for the work week, I will cook the steel cut oats late Sunday afternoon or early evening and then store the cooked oats in the fridge to have during the week.

Some people like sweet oatmeal while others like savoury oatmeal.  Sweet oatmeal is usually described as adding some form of sweetener, fruit, yogurt, chopped nuts or dried fruit.  Savoury oatmeal includes adding shredded cheddar cheese (a favourite of my dad), cooked vegetables, poached or sunny side up eggs.  We all have a variety of different tastes.

One of the varieties that I buy. 

One cup of oats added to a medium size saucepan. To one cup of steel cut oats, I add four cups of water.

I let the pot sit on the stove for six to eight hours.

I love adding a few teaspoons of maple flavour yogurt instead of milk to my cooked oatmeal.

Simmering on the stove. Cooking time is about 10 to 12 minutes.  I stir the oats frequently and keep the lid on the pot while cooking.

Ready to be spooned out into a storage container and put in the fridge. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The common redpoll bird is not seen every winter where we live.  The bird spends its summer in the tundra (Artic) and the winter in brushy areas.  Sometimes they do travel further south in the winter.  The birds look like sparrows but they belong to the same family as the gold finch.  Both male and female have some rose colour on the crown of their heads and the males also have rose colouring on their upper breast. They like to feed on seeds including niger seed which we have scattered for the partridge.  With winter hopefully ending soon, these birds will be flying north for the summer season.

Male redpoll.

Female redpoll.

Male redpoll.

Male redpoll.

Monday, March 14, 2011


One needs variety for lunch time meals and I made this recipe for one of my work lunches.  The ingredients can vary depending on what you have in your cupboards and fridge.  I like including pasta or rice in my salads along with some protein.  Adding both starch and protein to a salad creates a complete meal.  I will provide the ingredients and directions through the following photos.

Place 1/2 cup of cooked pasta in a container.

Chop up vegetables.  I chopped red pepper, cucumber, green onion, sugar snow peas and grape tomatoes and place it on top of the pasta. 

Add a good handful of spinach to the salad. 
Drain the tuna and add half of the can to the salad.

I love cilantro so I chopped a small handful of leaves and placed it on top of the tuna. 

Top view of the layered salad.

Side view of the salad.

I added some light ranch salad dressing and tossed everything together in the container.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


A real easy recipe to make is roast carrots and parsnips.  When making a roast or baking fish in the oven, I will also roast vegetables to accompany the meal.  You can use many different kinds of vegetables and I tend to use root vegetables when using this recipe.  I use clay baking trays which doesn't require you to flip the vegetables over half way through the cooking process.  Using a clay baker, the food browns on both sides.

Carrots and parsnips cut up and tossed with olive oil.

Ready for baking on clay baking trays.

Just out of the oven.  I crisp them up but not too much. 

Ready to be served.


2 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced in thin strips
2 medium sized parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin strips
olive oil
your favourite herbs or spices


In a mixing bowl, toss the cut up vegetables with a little bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with your favourite spices or herbs.  I use a non salt seasoning used for grilling meat.  I typically use the seasoning for grilling chicken.  Toss to combine everything.  Spread out on baking sheets.  I use clay baking trays as I think they help crisp the vegetables.  Bake at 375 to 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  Check on the vegetables after 20 to 25 minutes.  You want them to brown but not too crispy that they are over cooked.  Serves 2 to 3.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I decided to make a pot roast using a sirloin tip roast that I bought for a Sunday night supper.  I also wanted to make a pot roast so that I could use my Staub dutch oven   Last year I posted a column on Dutch Ovens comparing different dutch ovens.  One of the procedures in making a pot roast is cooking it at a lower oven temperature.  

I made a paste using balsamic vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard to cover the roast before it went into the oven.  The roast turned out very well and it was a delicious supper.
The staub dutch oven that I will use for cooking the pot roast.

The sirloin tip roast.

The paste of garlic, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar

The roast is ready to eat.
2 to 3 pound beef roast such as a sirloin tip
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
ground pepper, according to taste
1/2 cup water

Place the roast in the dutch oven.  Mix the paste of garlic, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.  Using a spreading knife or spatula, spread the paste over the roast.  Sprinkle pepper over the roast.  Add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the dutch oven.  Bake covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 325 degrees F.   Let the roast sit on top of the stove for a few minutes before slicing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Over this winter the big boys have come to feed in our backyard on almost a daily basis.  The big boys are both male and female partridge.  When I see them through the kitchen window in the backyard, I announce to the pets and the DH that the 'big boys' are here.  The cats do watch the partridge sometimes, perched on their cat condo and looking at them through the kitchen window.

Since we have bird feeders set up in the yard, the partridge are attracted to come and feed.  Beside the sunflower seeds for the sparrows, we have scattered niger seed on the ground for the partridge.  The flock that usually comes includes several females and one male.  It is easy to tell which bird is the male as he has a red patch of feathers on his breast.  We have had more than one flock come in at the same time and this means that there are two males in close proximity.  That is entertaining to watch as sometimes there is a bit of a chase scene between the male birds.

Female sunning herself on the roof of the garden shed.

Besides the female sunning herself on the roof, there is a sparrow on the corner of the roof, which is hard to see, and a male partridge sunning himself on the top of the fence. 

The flock is pecking away at the niger seed. This picture and the following photos were taken before sunset.  

Two females.

The two bottom birds are females and the top bird is the male.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Sometimes we buy a big container of dates from Costco.  The DH likes to snack on dates.  As this three pound container of Hadley pitted dates is a lot to consume, I made a date and orange loaf.  I can't recall the last time I made a loaf using dates.  This recipe is easy to make.  The loaf is really delicious, very moist and not very sweet.  The dates and orange add a sweetness to the loaf and the half a cup of sugar could even be reduced to one third of a cup.
Two cups of chopped dates added to the saucepan.

The three pound container of California pitted dates.  The DH has been eating them. 

Orange sliced in several sections in the blender.

The orange was blended with a cup of water. 

The dates, orange, water, sugar and butter cooling off in the saucepan after being boiled. 

Dough is placed into a large loaf pan and ready for baking.

Cooling off on a rack.

Ready for sampling!!


2 cups of dates chopped
1 orange, finely chopped
2 cups of water
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter or margarine
3 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking pwder
1 tsp of baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten


I used a blender to chop the orange.  Into the blender add a cut up orange using one cup of the two cups of water.  Blend until well chopped.  In a saucepan, bring to boil the dates, water, orange, sugar and butter.  Once it boils, turn the stove off and let the mixture cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda and powder.  Mix together.  Add the beaten egg to the flour mixture.  Then add the date mixture.  Combine.  Pour into a large loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes.

Adapted from and