Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I don't know that there are real ghosts and goblins, but there are always more trick-or-treaters than there are neighborhood kids!
- Robert Brault


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Hot Chocolate

5 tablespoons good quality dutch cocoa (powdered)
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 cups milk
2 cups light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipping cream to top

In a medium pot, combine cocoa, sugar, salt and water.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce and simmer, constantly stirring for about two minutes.

Stir in the milk, light cream and vanilla.  Heat, stirring constantly until mixture is almost to the boiling point.  Remove from heat and serve.

Top with whipped cream.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Mason Jar

Since the beginning of time, acquiring, harvesting and preserving one's own food had been essential to one's survival.  The process took on many methods including salting, brining, drying and the use of different variations of seasonal and cold storage.  In 1858, the invention of the home canning jar by tinsmith John Landis Mason (who invented a machine that could cut threads into lids, which made it possible to make a jar with a reusable, screw-on lid) took the art of the preservation of food to a new level.

Farmers, pioneers, settlers and even urban families quickly adopted this 'mason jar' method of preserving food.  The popular transparent storage container was ideal for readily identifying its contents and for the proper monitoring of the preservation process to ensure food safety.

In fact, home canning spiked during the World War II years, with Americans buying more than three million jars.

Yet, sadly, during the 1950's the popularity of mass food production in tin cans and plastic containers along with the invention of the home freezer as an alternative preserving method and the migration of people into urban centers caused the decline of the home preservation of food using mason jars, or more pointed, as a necessity to survival.

Alas, in less than a century, the beautiful mason jar's hardcore, purposeful life was over.

Nowadays, there are still a number of believers whom still preserve their home grown produce and flavours using the mason jar method - and why shouldn't they?  A mason jar full of fruit, jam, pickles or relish is visually appealing, customized to one's particular taste and healthy in ensuring that one knows exactly what is in the jar they are eating.

The mason jar has also found other uses as excellent alternatives to modern storage systems, and still, the romantic, organic symbolism - possibly, the representation of a more simple time - of the old vintage jars combined with the sheer purpose of the physical design makes for great arts and crafts and has influenced many designers in their modern home and restaurant decor.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stew and Dumplings

This is the easiest, most economical and most hearty meal anyone can make. You can be creative and add a variety of spices, vegetables, grains and meats to this dish, but the following recipe is the most basic of stew recipes. 

Beef Stew

2 stalks celery
4 carrots
3 potatoes
1 onion
1/2 cup each corn and peas
1  large steak, or favorite cut of beef for stewing.

3 cups beef broth
1/2 - 1 cup water to cover

1/2 cup cream

Wash celery.  Peel potatoes, onion and carrots.  Brown beef.

Cut beef, celery, carrots, potatoes and onion into large chunks and place in large pot.  Add in 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup corn.

Pour in broth, then water just to cover beef and vegetables.  Bring to boil then simmer on med low heat until vegetables are soft and stew has slightly thickened.

Bring down to low simmer, mix in cream just to heat.
Serve hot.

Steamed Dumplings

1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk

Stir dry ingredients together in medium bowl.  Rub or cut in butter.  Add milk to make a soft dough ( use more milk if necessary ).  Drop by heaping spoonfuls into boiling stew.  Cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Best and Easiest Chocolate Cake (With Orange Butter Icing)

2 cups white sugar
1 - 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
(If you don't have buttermilk, substitute 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar)
1 cup cold coffee
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together well.  Add in remaining wet ingredients and blend until smooth.  Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool then ice.

Also makes 24 cupcakes.

Orange Butter Icing

grated peel of one orange
4 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 cups icing sugar - depending on desired stiffness
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together zest, juices, butter and egg until creamy.  Beat in icing a cup at a time until desired consistency.  Beat in vanilla.  Frost cooled cake or cupcakes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grandma's Pie Crust

Grandma taught me how to make pie crust one afternoon many years ago.  Her recipe is almost identical to one that I found from the 1830's in a book dedicated to American pioneer village recipes - or receipts - as they called them back then.  Her simple recipe is also now called "Old Time Pastry" in modern cookbooks.

1 cup Crisco (lard, I use Tenderflake)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7-8 tablespoons cold water

In large mixing bowl, cut lard in with flour (Grandma used her hands to 'rub' the lard in with the flour, as I still do) until well blended.  Mix in salt.  Slowly add water until dough forms a soft ball.  Adjust amount of water until desired consistency - in other words, sometimes you'll need a little more or less.  Place on floured surface and roll out large enough to cover pie plate with a little hangover.  Trim for open pie or repeat to make top layer. 

Farm Kitchen At Night

Farm Kitchen at Night

The kettle sings a low contented tune,
The dog snores in her sleep behind the stove.
There is a mingled odor in the air
Of apple pie and cinnamon and clove.

Beyond the pantry door I catch a glimpse
Of shiny milk pans on a narrow shelf,
A row of plates - the old brown cookie crock;
A brimming water pail all by itself,
A little bracket lamp beside the door,
Makes a small halo on the kitchen floor.

An old grey cat is sleeping on a chair,
Paws folded in below her snowy chest,
She looks the picture of contented peace,
Like an old lady waiting for a guest,
Her eyes blink softly as if half awake,
Pale green like water in a mountain lake.

The kitchen has a fragrance of its own,
Of porridge simmering in a blue pot,
Of kindling wood drying beneath the stove,
And red coals glowing beautifu and hot,
There is a sense of joy and comfort there,
In the old stove and cushioned rocking chair.

A feel of home and peace and fireglow,
That lovely modern kitchens do not know.

- Edna Jaques

(photo from Saskatchewan: A Pictorial History, Edited by D.H. Bocking)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Freshy Squeezed Lemonade Syrup

4-6 lemons
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
pinch of salt

Finely grate or peel the zest of 4 lemons.

Extract juice from lemons to equal 1 cup of fresh lemon juice (depending on size about 4 medium lemons)

Pour the lemon juice, sugar and 2 cups of water into large saucepan.  Bring to a light boil and continue cooking until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, add lemon zest and salt to taste.

Cool, store syrup in mason jars in refrigerator.

By the glass: In a large glass pour 1/4 cup lemonade syrup, add 1 cup cold water and ice.  Garnish with lemon wedge or sprig of mint.  Also see variations below.

By the pitcher:  Depending on the size of the pitcher, begin with 2 cups syrup to 4 cups water and lots of ice.  Adjust to taste.  Garnish with slices of lemon or lime, sprigs of mint or lemon thyme.  See variations.


  • Add frozen saskatoons, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or your favorite fruit.
  • Substitute commercial lemonade for a portion of the added water.  The added citric acid gives the lemonade a nice kick.
  • Add green tea to make green tea lemonade.

"We live in a world where lemonade is made from artificial flavoring and furniture polish is made from real lemons." 
 - Mad Magazine

Lemon Roasted Potato Wedges

8 yellow potatoes (Yukon Gold), skin on and scrubbed
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp dried lemon peel (optional)
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
parchment paper

In large pot, boil potatoes in salted water until slightly tender.  Cut into wedges.

In large bowl mix together lemon juice, oil, minced garlic, lemon peel, oregano, salt and pepper.  Add potato wedges and toss to coat.

On parchment paper lined baking sheet, arrange potato wedges and bake at 400 degree F (200 degrees C) for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender and crispy on the outside.

photos by Jacklyn Waronek

Monday, October 7, 2013

Apple Butter

apples (tart)                4 lbs
granulated sugar         2 cups
fresh lemon juice       4 tbsp
cinnamon                   1 tsp

Remove stems from apples.  Quarter.  Place everything (core, seeds, peeling included) into pot.  Add sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Stir and let stand until apples release juice.  Cover, heat slowly and bring to a boil.  Cook gently on steady (not high) heat until apples are soft.  Press through a food mill into a large pot on top of stove on low-med heat stirring often until desired thickness and consistency.  Pour into hot sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch form top and seal.  Makes about 4 half pints.