Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sam Wants To Know...

"It's Me, Sam" says that she is going to be making pizza this weekend after being inspired by my previous post. She wanted to know how to make our crust and well, we like to share. This recipe is our adaptation of one found in "The Canadian Living Cookbook" published in 1987. This a great cookbook and some of our favourite dishes start out from there.

Basic Pizza Dough

1 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast (1 tbsp)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsps liquid honey (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast into water and let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. Fresh yeast works best. Meanwhile, in a seperate bowl, combine flour and salt.

Stir oil and the beaten egg into the yeast mixture. If you're using the honey add it to the wet ingredients now. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mix and stir with a fork until the dough can be gathered together into a sticky ball. You may need slightly more or less flour than the 3 cups.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. At this point we put the dough in a plastic bag and put the bag in a warm place for an hour or so. The original recipe says that the dough will be ready after about 10 minutes but we like to let it rest a little longer.

After rolling out the dough and transferring to your greased and floured pans let it rest again fo a short time. Makes enough for two 12 inch pizza pans or cookie sheets.

We doubled the recipe for last weekend and everything worked out great. That was easier than making a single recipe two times.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Murder of Crow(s)

Tragedy happened during pizza construction on Saturday night. One of the family of crows that have been here at the new house since we moved in was attacked and killed by a Northern Goshawk. We were waiting for the pizza dough to rise and I saw something flash past the window. I looked out just as the hawk landed his blow on the crow. It wasn't a killing strike, though once the hawk had his talons into his prey there was no going back. The poor crow put up a valiant effort to drive off his killer but it was to no avail. After a five minute stand-off the goshawk picked up his meal and flew off into the trees. This morning the evidence was left in the snow.

Sorry about the poor quality of this picture but we were shooting from inside the house and it was semi-dark outside. You can see the goshawk standing over the poor crow in the foreground.

Sunday afternoon the house was very quiet. Usually the crow family is buzzing around making all kinds of racket, calling to each other. We were obviously all in mourning for a fallen family member. I know that this is just nature at work and that the hawk has to eat. That's life, and I know that I just have to accept it.

The tracks in the snow are all that's left to tell of this sad story.

The crow put up quite a struggle but ultimately the goshawk won out.

Pizza Night, Yummy!

Saturday night was pizza night, as you may have already read. It's always a big deal around here because we just don't order takeout any more. Greco? I don't think so! Besides, there is nothing like home-made pizza. We are even back to making our own dough again after our experience with the dough we bought from our local bakery. We used to make the dough at home all the time but we were getting lazy, I guess. There is a time factor, too. It takes quite a while to put the recipe together, let it rise, roll it out and rest. The results are worth the effort and making your own allows you to experiment. This time we added a couple of tablespoons of the farm market honey to the liquid ingredients before we added them to the dry ones. I turned out great, crispy-chewy and tasty.

So here are some pictures of it all going together. When we make pizza we always make extra to freeze for later. I say that just so you don't think that we ate it all at one go. Anyway, we need to have extra just in case someone shows up at suppertime (yeah, right...). By the way, the bacon we mentioned previously was perfect. Not too salty and with a nice little smokey flavour. Our thanks to the happy pigs!

Okay, just try not to lick the screen!

Hubby's pizza all ready to gobble.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Farmers market.

We got up nice and early this morning so that we could go to our local farmer’s market. I forgot the camera which pissed me off because I was really hoping to post some pictures. I'll have to save that idea for a later time.

The farmer’s market is great source of fresh, locally produced products. There are lots of veggies, meats and eggs, of course, but there are lots of crafts, art pieces and prepared foods as well. We bought some salmon, halibut, organic mushrooms, multigrain bread, bacon and pepperoni. Tonight is pizza night so the bacon and pepperoni won't last long. The fish will be for supper later this week. I'm really interested to see how this bacon cooks up because it is naturally smoked with no sulphites or other preservatives added. This farmer’s animals are all free range, so lots of happy pigs, and he has a huge following of shoppers just lining up every weekend to buy his pork. This industry has really suffered in the last few years, along with beef producers, and I really do want to buy from local farmers because it will be a very sad day to see them close up shop. I don't want my meat products coming from other countries or even other provinces in Canada. So I've been really trying hard to buy products made here on the Witch’s Island as much as we can.

The bacon from the farmer's market being cooked for our pizzas.

A couple of months ago we bought some really nice liquid honey there. I’ve been raving about it ever since and we bought up almost all the remaining stock to give as Christmas gifts, it was that good. It’s the best and the beekeeper is a super nice, too. She refers to the bees as “my girls”. You just can't get that interaction from buying a jar of honey off the shelf at your super-mega big-box grocery warehouse.

We bought this honey pot at the farmer's market, too!

In fact, we’re pretty lucky that there is a second farmer’s market close to home. We were there last weekend and came across a booth selling exotic spices. I know that the spices are probably not grown locally but then they couldn’t have been, could they? The vendor is an independent small businesswoman and that’s what’s important. We bought some smokey Hungarian paprika, some hot chipotle chili powder and some Schezuan peppercorns. We’ve already used the paprika on some chicken nuggets we had for supper this week. We tried the chipotle chili powder on some oven “fries” the same evening. Both spices were excellent and different from others that we have tried, well worth the cost!

I would really recommend the extra time to find a farmers market near you. You will find some tasty foods, maybe make some new friends and help some farmers survive in what might one day be a forgotten trade.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"New to Me" Boots & Homemade Baked Beans

Saturday was a windfall day for me at my favorite boutique (Value Village). I spent, (well actually I didn't spend because I used my Christmas gift certificates) a grand total of $41.00 and I want to show you everything that I picked up.

Hey, look at all the great stuff I got for just $41.00!

I got two types of boots, one is very dressy in maybe an outdated style but since I'm not up to-date on the fashion trends, who cares, and the other type is a hiking style, which I really needed. The dress boots were actually made in Canada which is always a bonus to me. Hubby was kind enough to put a coat of water-proofing on them for me so I won't have any salt stains. He does look after me.

My new dress boots.

I also bought two old-style Corelle casserole dishes. I have been looking to replace the chipped glass lids on my old set and these ones are just like new, so I’m very happy! The patterns don't match but who cares.

I found an Oakland Raiders hoody, it’s missing the string but otherwise it’s in great shape and of course Oakland just happens to be my favorite NFL football team. I plan on wearing this tomorrow. I purchased two other tops for work and found a nice quilting pattern book which I guess someone just got tired of. Some days it just pays to be at the right place at the right time.

We are making a big pot of baked beans for supper tonight and I'm going to bake some poppy seed biscuits to go with them. I can smell the beans cooking away downstairs right now and they’re driving me crazy. It might be a good night for an early dinner.

This is the blend of beans we're using today.

This is the beans after they have been cooking for about an hour.

Here are the beans after 5 hours in the oven.

So far today I've planned the menu for the rest of the week, cleaned the house, helped Hubby clean the garage floor and finished the laundry. Hubby is outside right now washing the car and the truck and I can see the suds freezing on top of his wash pail. It may be sunny out there but it’s still damn cold. We can't have Big Red looking dirty, though. It really is a pretty truck and we may as well keep it clean. We’ve had it about a month now and we’re still loving it.

Big Red, still looking good.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I’m including one more of the Witch’s Island because everyone seemed to enjoy yesterday’s so much. Bye for now.

You don't want to go swimming here today!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Little Drive Around The Neighbourhood For Canadian Saver

One of my blogging buddies, Canadian Saver, mentioned the other day that she would move to The Witch's Island if she got the chance and that got me thinking about why someone would do that. So this morning we rolled out of bed to a bright and shiny winter day and decided to take a little drive to see what we could see. It turns out that this is a very beautiful place even at this time of year. We even found a pond where someone was in the process of clearing snow to make an outdoor rink. I wish I'd brought my skates.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Grab Your Scissors, It's Craft Time!

For years we have been recycling our Christmas cards and calendars. "That British Woman" did a lovely post on this last year (see it here) and I would like to add my two cents worth and show off some of the beautiful tags I made out of this year's cards.

We always seem to get a least 100 cards every year. Hubby is very popular at his job and this is why there are so many. What a waste it would be to just throw them away so I take some of the best cards and do a little magic on them.

I like to use scrap-booking scissors to cut out the tags. You can buy inexpensive pairs at the dollar store if you're lucky. The patterned cut from these scissors will help to hide any out-of-square corners if, like me, you have a hard time cutting straight lines. Don't forget to look at the backs of the cards too because they may have pictures which are perfect for the smaller type tags. You can dress them up with ribbon or plain string for a rustic look. Use a hole punch to give the tags a place to tie on.

I also do the same thing with old calenders because, honestly, some of them are just too pretty to throw out. I think a great idea for Eco-friendly companies who publish calenders should imprint wild flower seeds inside the paper and you can just cut the calendar up and scatter the pieces in a field. Maybe I should patent this idea!!!

I have a beautiful calendar from 2001 (it's from the Holly Pond Hill series by Susan Wheeler) and I want you to see how I trimmed it up to make a background for my bulletin board. I'm going to use a different picture every month, plus I'll use the extra border that was around the pictures in the calendar for bookmarks.

I also wanted to show off a wall hanging I snagged after Christmas for half price. I really wanted this for Christmas but it wasn't to be. I was really happy to get the last one afterwards, though. The price was an added bonus. And yes, it is a little wonky and crooked but thats okay with me, I like things like that. It's making Hubby go all cross-eyed though.

The witch can be very crafty at times and I look forward throughout the year to share some more craft favorites with you all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Clothes. Thanks, Granny New Year!

Here's just a short post to show off my new clothes.

I went to Sears and found quite a few bargains and clothes that really do look nice on me. Everything mixes and matches well, too. I was so pleased and I still have a few dollars left from Granny New Year, so next time I'm out I would like to find a nice top and sweater set and some comfortably shoes. I'll probably be able to find a jacket to go with all my pants at the Village along with a few more blouses. Plus, I received lots of gift certificates from the Village for Christmas so I won't have to spend any money out of pocket. Sweet deal for me.

The weather has been whacky, lately. One day we are BBQing on the deck (I know, I know, but the old thing is still out there) with the grass all green and temperatures way above zero and the next day we are getting buried with snow, then rain, lots of rain.

Today will just be the regular Sunday routine - cooking, cleaning, laundry ,baking and maybe some meal planning. That will keep me busy enough but then I haven't done much while being off. I'm back to work tomorrow after having had such a wonderful break, so I guess I'd better try and get my MoJo on. It's going to be forever until my next holiday, that is as long as I don't get snowed in.

p.s. I've got the baking done already. Here's a picture of them before I go.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Home-made Seafood Chowder

This is what our New Year's Day supper looked like. It tasted even better than it looks. I wish I could have shared some with you, but I will share our recipe instead, if you are interested. It's very easy to make. We had purchased the lobster meat frozen at our local farmers market for $10.00 and it was all claws and knuckle meat only. We got the scallops there, too.

It was perfect meal to end a perfect first day in 2010.
Bon appetite.

Seafood Chowder


• 8 oz. scallops, thawed if frozen, chopped if large
• 8 oz. lobster meat, thawed if frozen
• 6 to 8 20/24 size shrimp, cooked, peeled and chopped into 4 pieces each
• 5 slices bacon, chopped into ½ inch pieces
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 cup diced peeled potatoes
• 1/4 cup chopped celery
• 3 mushrooms, diced
• 1/4 cup diced carrot
• 1 cup fish, vegetable or chicken stock
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1/8 tsp. white pepper
• 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
• 2 cups skim milk
• ½ cup cream
• 1 cup frozen corn
• 1 cup white wine (optional, reduce milk if using)


In large stockpot, cook bacon until crisp; remove from pan, drain on paper towels, and set aside. In drippings, place scallops and cook for 3-4 minutes until opaque. Remove scallops from pot and set aside.

In drippings in pot, add onion, potatoes and celery and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until potatoes are tender.

In medium bowl, combine flour, marjoram, pepper, milk, cream and mix with wire whisk until blended. Add to pot along with corn and bacon and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring often, until soup has thickened and vegetables are tender. Add cooked scallops, lobster and shrimp and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the seafood is thoroughly heated.

4 servings

Adapted from recipe found here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Granny New Year Came Sometime Through The Night.

Wow, what a beautiful full moon last night! It was actually a blue moon and there won't be another one of those on New Year's Eve until 2028, so I hope you saw it, too. We rang in the New Year out in the driveway trying to take some pictures of it but they didn't turn out very good. The night was truly beautiful, though and we did get a couple of shots which lit up the diamonds in the snow on the front lawn.

Granny New Year did come and I was really surprised because I received some money to buy new clothing (and not thrift store clothing!). I don't know where to start. I always buy from Value Village and other places like it and now I'm going to have to figure out where new clothes come from. This may be the biggest challenge yet for me in 2010. Don't laugh because I'm serious.

Hubby received some goodies (a tray of his favourite iced lemon cookies, nicely decorated in Christmas-sy colours) and a solar powered radio for his shed. Granny New Year knew just want he wanted.

Speaking of Granny New Year, the tradition has been handed down from my Great Grandmother, Ludivine. I have always loved that name, she was usually just called Luddy (of course, not by me).

She was Scottish and their tradition was to extend the spirit of Christmas giving by having a small present to open on New Year's Day. It usually arrived in your stocking and was a small toy, nuts, fruit or chocolate. Times were tough back then and really your stocking was all you had. Try explaining that to today's generation.

Hope you enjoyed me sharing this with you. Maybe Granny New Year will have a few more places to visit next year.
Happy 2010, everyone.