Thursday, November 4, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

I love a nice thick soup once the weather turns cold. This is one of the dishes we serve when we go and get our Christmas tree which is just around the corner now. The flower market where I work just got their Christmas Greens in so the whole place smells of cedar, pine and eucalyptus. I make a huge batch because everyone loves it and I divide it up so you can half it for a smaller batch.

6 leeks
4 lg onions
4 lg garlic cloves
oil for sauteing about two tbsp of olive oil
4 lg potatoes
2 cartons of vegetable stock
2 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp sesame oil
250 mls cream (optional, leave it out if you want this to be vegan)
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1/2 tsp of chipotle powder

chop leeks (I dont use the really green tops of the leeks, they are a bit stringy and I save them to make my own veg stock) and rinse them in a bowl of cool water, strain the leeks and let dry. chop onions and garlic. saute onions, garlic and leeks in your soup pot with the oil until soft. chop potatoes into bite sized chunks, add to pot. add stock and rosemary to pot, make sure the stock covers the potatoes and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 20-25 min or until potatoes are soft. remove from heat and set aside. cook the rice (following the directions on the bag). add the sesame oil to the soup pot and puree. add the cooked rice and puree. let sit and cool then put in fridge for 12-24 hours. reheat on stove adding the cream (if you are going for non-vegan) and the chipotle and puree.

Perfect! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Look at these beautiful puffball mushrooms the family and I found! The hubby, the kids and I went out on a nature hike today through our neighbors trails. We looked at the stream that cuts through the limestone rock to form waterfalls and had races with sticks down the stream. The weather was beautiful and not too cold. We stopped along the trail to pick up some acorns when the hubby noticed these beauties just off the trail. We harvested them and brought them home along with free run eggs from our neighbors chickens. We also got those as fresh as can be as we grabbed them fresh from the coop. I love the flavors of these eggs since the chickens are allowed to roam all through the woods during the day. I am so excited to cut into the mushrooms! We already have many plans for them including mushroom soup and sauteing them in butter. The smaller one weighed 4lbs and the larger one weighed slightly over 10lbs! I can't wait to enjoy these beautiful mushrooms.
***please note NEVER consume mushrooms found in the wild without absolutely confirming that they are safe!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spinach And Barley Bake Recipe

I found this recipe on but I modified it a bit.

2/3 cup pearled barley
1 2/3 cup water
1 box (10 oz size) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
3 medium cloves of garlic diced or crushed
1 red pepper diced
2 cup grated parmesan cheese (add more if you wish---we LOVE parmesan or use cheddar---be creative!)
1 egg
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
1 teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 container or 250 ml of sour cream (use low fat if you wish)

Place the barley and water in a 2-quart pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the barley is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir often so barley doesnt burn.

Place the cooked barley and all of the remaining ingredients except for 1 cup of the Parmesan in a large bowl, and stir to mix well. Coat a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray, and spread the mixture evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top.

Bake uncovered at 375degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove the dish from the oven, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 4

The kids and the hubby loved it and it was easy to make. I prepared it in the morning and then let it sit in the fridge until dinner time. Then I baked it off and we enjoyed. I think the time it got to sit made it tastier!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wine Review: Cab Franc where have you gone?

I love Cabernet Franc, I have a passion for that grape in particular. I think its bold, tough and has great flavor. I found that wineries used to produce great Cab Francs in the past. Everything I loved about Cab Franc was showcased in these wines. Now I find that it has become a grape of icewine and blending. It is extremely hard to find a Cab Franc that isn't an icewine. So I have been shopping at my local LCBO's and trying to find a Cab Franc that stands up to my memories of the varietal. Its been awhile since I have been back in the wine industry but I was hopeful to find something tasty!

I first bought the Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc 2007. I was disappointed, where was the raw bold flavors I was used to. This was a everyday wine, something anyone could buy and enjoy. I understand the reasoning behind producing wines like this, obviously they sell more if they are produced with an average palate in mind. If you enjoy red wine and aren't picky then it is a very nice wine. At just over $13 it is a reasonable everyday wine. I hated it!

So try another, I bought the Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc 2006. This is a winery known for their bold Baco Noir. I was hoping to find their Cab Franc to be as outstanding as their Baco Noir (and I love their Sibling Rivalry red as an everyday wine). I opened it and poured it into my glass, the aromas were heavenly. I was getting excited...this is it! I tasted it and I was disappointed all over again. The flavor just doesnt match up to the nose of the wine. It smells of blackberry and leather and tastes of grapey water. There was no tannins left in the wine, I was so upset with the taste I wont drink it again so it has been relegated to cooking wine.

So my search continues for a Cab Franc to live up to my lofty standards ;)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A new little friend

So this morning on my walk with my neighbor (yes, I am still keeping up the walking and feeling great) we went farther then we usually do since we had the time. We live in a really rural area so while walking through a wooded section of the road we were surprised to see a little head pop up out of the grass. I got closer to see what it was while my neighbor held her was two little puppies!!! Someone had dumped them during the night and left them there to die. I was so saddened to see these sweet defenceless little things shaking and cowering in the grass. I scooped them both up and placed them in my vest to warm up against my chest while we walked back.

Once we got home my neighbor set them up in a little bed and I called our vet. They wonderful ladies at my vet's told me to bring them in immediately. So my neighbor and I bundled them into the car and went straight to my vet's. The vet checked them over and found that the one little boy puppy was very dehydrated and sick, the girl puppy was doing better as she was bigger and less dehydrated. So we left the little boy with the vet after one of the ladies that work at the vet's said she had the perfect home for the little guy. We brought the little girl home and have been caring for her all day. The vet said they seem to be a Dachshund/Terrier mix and are about 7-10 weeks old.

We are keeping her, kind of perfect timing considering it is our twin girls birthday tomorrow. We are still debating names between Daisy, Karma, Killer (my husbands suggestion) and Lucky. She is such a sweet little thing and it breaks my heart to think of anyone doing such an awful thing to such a little baby!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Apple Bread Pudding

I made this delicious dish for the kids on Sunday morning. I only let it sit for an hour but it would benefit from sitting overnight.

Apple Saute
1/4 cup of butter unsalted + some for greasing the baking dish
3 medium apples (golden delicious are nice or any baking apple)
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Chop apples into about one inch cubes or thin slices. Heat butter in a frying pan on medium, once melted add apples and sugar. Saute on medium-low until apples are softened and sauce is getting thicker. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Bread Portion
6 slices of bread (I use a twelve grain bread)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (softened)
1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the softened butter with the sugar and cinnamon then spread on the bread. Cut the bread into large around 1 & 1/2 inch chunks. Place in a large bowl and add apple saute (if the apples are still a bit warm its ok). Combine gently until bread is lightly coated with sauce from the apples. Place in a greased baking dish.

Liquid Portion
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 eggs (we use fresh eggs from neighbors free range chickens)
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of ground flax

Whisk the vanilla, milk, eggs and flax together in a bowl. Then pour over the bread and apple mixture in the baking dish. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, for the best results let it sit in the fridge overnight. Bake in the oven at 350F for 50 minutes covered with either foil or I use Corningwear dishes that have a glass lid.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Richters Herbs - Medicinal, Culinary, Aromatic - Plants & Seeds

Richters Herbs - Medicinal, Culinary, Aromatic - Plants & Seeds

I finally placed my order with Richters Herbs. Steve and I received their catalogue about two months ago and had highlighted almost half of it with our wanted purchases. I didn't think I would need to order plants online, I figured we would have the time to get to our closest garden center to pick up the plants we wanted. I certainly didn't expect the fabulous weather we have had since March to hold. But now most of my flower garden is flourishing and the weather is still steadily getting warmer I cant delay any longer.

I ordered mostly herbs as we use seeds from our previous years harvest to plant in this years gardens and because I made the unfortunate mistake of leaving my potted herbs out in the fall and they were killed by the frost. I cant wait for them to arrive, I have been without my favorite herb, rosemary, for months now.

I ordered lemon balm, two types of basil, Casper pumpkin (I want to try this year), mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme and yarrow. I am super excited for them to come and for me to get my hands dirt again!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breakfast Cookies

These are quick and easy and my kids loved them!


2 lg eggs (beaten)

1/2 cup of honey

1/4 cup. of butter

1 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup of raisins

1 cup of chopped almonds or walnuts

1 cup of spelt (or oatmeal)

1/2 cup of whole wheat flour

1/2 cup of regular bleached flour

1 tsp of vanilla

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of salba (optional)

1 & 1/2 cup of Cheerios

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F

In one bowl mix eggs, honey, butter and vanilla together. Add the raisins, walnuts (or almonds) and carrot and mix well.

In a second bowl mix the spelt, both flours cinnamon and salba (if you are adding it). Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix. Add the Cheerios and mix until a wet dough is formed. Place tablespoons of the dough on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 min.

I use spelt instead of oatmeal because it is more nutritious because it is richer in vitamins and minerals, but using oatmeal is perfectly acceptable. I also throw some Salba in because I like to boost my kids food anyway I can and adding Salba gives them more natural Omega-3 fatty acids. I have a jar of Salba and a jar of flax seed on my counter for a quick, tasteless addition to all my meals.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apples and Walking

I am so excited, I planted an McIntosh apple tree on our property today. I can't wait to enjoy the juicy, tart apples in the fall! I am a little concerned because I read that McIntosh apples need a pollinator. I think my neighbor has a crab apple tree (which I read was acceptable to use as a pollinator) I just don't know for sure its a crab apple and I don't know how close the trees have to be. Well if it doesn't work out this year then next year I will plant a crab apple myself, I have been looking for an ornamental tree to put in the front yard anyway.

So in the fall I will have lots of gorgeous apples to try out recipes with...hopefully!

Also lately my neighbor and I have been getting out walking. It has been really good, we get up super early but its the only time we can both manage it. I like it because I feel I have a lot more energy by getting up and getting active instead of laying in bed. I feel sluggish and tired when I stay in bed and try to sleep longer. The walking has been an excellent alternative and when I come home I am in a good mood and ready to start my day!

I have been very productive today. I got the whole house clean and did a lot of laundry too. I am still amazed at how awesome vinegar and water cleans windows! We had my brother's dog all week because my brother was in Mexico and the dog slobbered all over my sliding door glass. I quick spray of the vinegar/water mixture and a wipe and they were sparkling again! I did invest in good microfiber clothes but they are not necessary to get a good clean. I used to use paper towels but got the clothes in another one of my efforts to be greener.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Gardens and weight struggles

I planted my organic meadowsweet and chammomile yesterday. It says to plant in fall or early spring and with the weather we have been having its more like mid-may then early april. I need to get moving on the vegetable garden. I still need to spread my compost, rototill then plant the seeds.
I am planning on planting snap peas, carrots, beets, potatos, onions, tomatos, corn, squash and zucchini. As for herbs we always have rosemary, lavender, mint, sage, thyme, basil, lemon balm, echinacea and chives. There are a bunch more I want to get but I can't order all the ones I want and I haven't been able to decide on only a few.

I have pruned my blackberries, grapes and fruit trees. I'm hoping the grapes do better thie year, they have been transplanted so many times (I have inherited them from my inlaws that brought them into the country from Europe over 10 years ago), I am surprised they are still hanging on.

Its the same though with my roses. I inherited them from my Great-Aunt after she passed away and they seem to be constantly getting some sort of disease or pest.

I also have been struggling with my weight. I have always been overweight but it wasn't until after I had my kids that I was actually obese. I made a lifestyle change in the beginning of March and so far I am down 9 pounds. I don't believe in dieting anymore....diets work, I've done them all and when you follow them you lose weight. Although unless you make a change forever then you just gain it all back. Most people that diet think that they only have to be strict and follow any diet until they have lost the weight and then they can go back to eating all the foods they were before. This is the reason so many people rebound, you can not go back to eating they way you did before the diet. It needs to be a change for life, working out needs to be as routine as brushing your teeth and eating healthy needs to be how you eat ALL the time, not just whenever you need to lose 10 pounds.

When you really look at the amount of calories you are consuming in comparison to how many calories you should be having its shocking. My morning coffee was the biggest shocker to me, I don't really like coffee, I do like it however with a dollup of flavored coffee whitener. They say that they are fat free so I thought they were fine. Until I started inputing the food I eat into an online calorie morning coffee ended up being almost 300 calories!! Thats a lot when I was now on a limited 1500 calorie daily intake.

You can find calorie counters anywhere now, I was using the one on but now I have an application on my iPhone called Lose It that I can input my food into. Also almost every health and lifestyle magazine has calorie calculators and BMI calculators on their websites. I did mine on and

Monday, April 5, 2010

Carrot Spelt Cookies

Heat oven to 375 F.

3/4 cup of butter softened or 3/4 cup of margarine
1/2 cup of organic sugar or 3/4 cup of honey
1 & 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup regular bleached flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup spelt
1 & 1/4 cup of shredded carrot

Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg in a bowl. Mix well.
Combine both the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and spelt in another bowl. Mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until a loose dough is formed. Add the carrot and mix until dough completely combined.
Place tablespoons of dough on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 min.


I love the spring, this season and fall are my favorites. I love seeing all the new green shoots sprouting everywhere and I love hearing the birds singing out my open windows.

Since having the first of my three wonderful kids almost four years ago my husband and I have been trying to be as green and natural as possible. I really limit the amount of processed sugar products that my children consume and we try to buy organic produce and other items from companies that employ sustainable practices.

I clean our house using only natural products like baking soda and vinegar. I keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water in our kitchen. It has a multitude of uses but I mostly use it to clean the counters and glass. I recently discovered baking soda and vinegar on really baked on food on the stove top works amazingly. You don't need much and once you add a bit of vinegar to the baking soda on the stove top it bubbles and breaks up all the crusty bits.

When we built the house I chose a light grout colour...silly...but I have found that a little baking soda, water and a toothbrush cleans that up in a jiffy. I also use baking soda in my laundry, especially in removing deodorant stains. I feel silly having these great natural cleaning revelations but we are so surrounded by and bombarded by chemical products that claim to easily clean everything and yet we have the power to naturally clean lots of things with items we already have in our cabinets.