Thursday, September 29, 2016


Early this summer I started sewing a blouse in a pretty, blue batik fabric.  I used a pattern that had been fitted to me specifically, and was supposed to be absolutely trouble-free as a result.  Well, I had more trouble with fitting that blouse than any other garment I've made in ages.

The bust dart was moved a few times (you can still see the needle holes where it was sewed before), and finally I just thought, Enough!  I was determined to finish the blouse.  But when the first sleeve was sewed in it was evident that the sleeve, designed to end below the elbow, was too short to allow it to be buttoned there.  It will work as elbow length with the cuff turned up, so that's how I'll wear it.

But that additional problem just kind of finished that project for me.  The blouse was shoved into a corner and left to "ripen."  Last week I finally pulled it out again, sewed on the other sleeve, made the buttonholes, hemmed the blouse (by hand) and sewed on the buttons.  It's not bad:

But given the history of struggles in making it, I wonder if I'll ever enjoy wearing it.

Friday, September 23, 2016


My good friend M. gave me a recipe for a Harvest Loaf, that turns out very tasty.


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin

Cream butter and sugar with the mixer.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the pumpkin. Add 1 cup cut up dates (or raisins)

In another bowl mix together:
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger

Stir the dry mixture into the wet ingredients.  Spoon into a 9 x 5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350º for one hour.  Cool.  Wrap.

Keeps well, freezes well, and tastes terrific.

This morning I made a triple recipe, and used a whole package of dates which had been in the cupboard for some time.  I microwaved them to soften them and cut them vertically and then horizontally.  This worked very well.

This recipe has been changed to reflect the way I bake, viz. less sugar, less white flour and some whole wheat flour instead, and the addition of dates in place of chocolate chips.  I tripled the ingredients, because that uses one large can of pumpkin.  The small sized can seems to hold enough to two loaves.

The first time I used this recipe, I made one loaf, which used 1/2 of a smaller can of pumpkin and froze the other cup for later use.  I've also adapted this recipe to my standard muffin recipe.  Those changes: no butter, but 3 TBS of olive oil in its place and 1/2 cup sugar instead of 3/4 cup.  Bake in parchment lined muffin tins for 25 min.

That adaptation turned out very well also.  I think I used raisins in that one.

Earlier this week we watched a new Ken Burns film, "The Sharps War."  Everything by Ken Burns is excellent, and this film about a pastoral couple who were sent to Poland just before the Second World War with the mission to save as many Jewish people, especially children, as possible.  They were successful in saving quite a few.  It was a difficult, very dangerous task.  Very well done, and very worthwhile to watch.  It aired on PBS, and if past programs are anything to go by, it will be shown again sometime on PBS.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I love to read!  I begin every day reading and end every day reading.  And sometimes I read for several hours in between.  But I love BOOKS--not e-readers.  I tried one once and thoroughly disliked it.  There are better ones now, and maybe I'll try one sometime again.

Most of my books come from the library.  We have a small library here in town, but we are able to order almost any book through the extended library system.  One book I ordered recently was The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding, subtitled, One House, Five Families, and 100 Years of German History.

Thomas Harding's grandmother recalled with great fondness a summer house on a lake near Berlin that her father had built.  The family spend idyllic summers there.  Thomas became interested in that house and visited it, finding it in great disrepair.  He tried to interest his extended family in purchasing the house and restoring it, but wasn't successful.

Through dedicated research and several visits he unearthed the history of the house and wrote this interesting and well documented book about the house, a book which also gives an accounting of the political history of that small town and the country that surrounds it.

One interesting detail is the building of the Berlin Wall which ran right through the property, between the house and the lake, leaving the house in East Germany.

I heartily recommend this well-written book to anyone interested in a family-based history of the last century in Germany.

Two other books I've enjoyed recently are by Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect.  The narrator is an Asperger-syndrome adult man.  Doesn't sound too promising, but this is very well done and there's lots of good humour in the writing.  Not a heavy or deep read, but certainly enjoyable.

I'm always looking for good books to read.  If you have any books that you've enjoyed recently--or that you found interesting, stimulating even though perhaps on difficult or serious subjects, such as Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, please make a recommendation!  You can leave it in a comment, or you can email me at  THANKS!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


My friend S. has been busy knitting and cross-stitching in preparation for a trip to visit a new grand baby.  She does really beautiful work and agreed to let me show her work to you.  First up is the very lovely cross stitched wall hanging celebrating the new baby.

Then there's the sweater for the new baby boy.  Made with very high quality yarn, and beautifully knit.

  She also made a very nice winter sweater for the new baby's big brother.  I think he's about 2 1/2 years old.

She also made this very attractive centrepiece for her daughter-in-law.  What a nice early Christmas present!  And what a clever pattern.  S. says it wasn't difficult to make.  It's very crisp and that comes from the "batting" being a sheet of foam.  I'm very interested to learn how that's made.  She's promised to show me.  There are lots of photos of these center pieces on pinterest, but I don't know what they are called.  But doesn't it give you ideas?

And last, but not least a very pretty sweater for her youngest granddaughter who is just over one year old.  This pretty pink yarn has a small, shiny thread wrapped around it, so it gives a very nice sparkle to this little sweater.  This was knit from the top down and needed only the ends of yarn woven in to complete it.

Congratulations to S for these beautiful works.  I'm celebrating her talents today!

Monday, September 12, 2016


Today was another day for processing apples.  Shirley picked, together we cleaned and cut up several buckets of apples, and I cooked and "milled" the sauce.  It was a labor-intensive day, occupying me from about 10:30 this morning until 5 this afternoon.  It takes a lot of time and effort to create your own food supply!

But wasn't that worth it!  Oddly enough the total of apple sauce is the same as the last time: 13 quarts and then a bit extra for eating right away.  All these 13 quarts will go into the freezer for now.  The white lids are not sealing lids, but a handy sort of plastic lid to use after you've removed the sealed lids.  I'm not planning to can these jars, just store them in the freezer until we need them.  The four plastic containers are what we usually use for freezing applesauce, etc.

The three rosy pink jars are apple juice.  That's all the juice we got from the Kerr apple/crab this summer.  That's an every other year tree, and this was supposed to be the year for it to produce.  Unfortunately the -7ºC temperature we had while the trees were in bloom got rid of most of the apples from that tree for this year.  The plums all disappeared in that one heavy frost also.

The apples we sauced today were from two trees in a heavily treed area and were somewhat protected from the frost by that amount of growth surrounding them.

The garden is pretty much all finished.  There are still carrots and turnips out there, waiting to be dug and stored for winter.  We do have a frost advisory tonight, so it's becoming urgent to finish digging them also.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Saturday often becomes a day of baking here.  Today was no exception.  Here's the haul:

The Saskatoon muffins are my regular recipe, which I call "Better Blueberry Muffins," originally from a bag of Rogers flour but I added ingredients.  This basic recipe can be adapted to other fruits and also makes a very nice pumpkin/date muffin.


Place in a large bowl--
1 cup of quick oats
2 cups of white flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon.
Mix all dry ingredients well.  Add:
1 cup of low fat yogurt
Mix a tsp. of baking soda in with the yogurt.
 2 eggs,
3 TBS olive oil (light tasting)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries (or Saskatoons)
enough skim milk to make a fairly thick batter.

Spoon into muffin pan lined with parchment muffin cups.  (Parchment muffin cups peel off the muffins very easily.  No comparison to plain paper muffin cups!)
Bake at 350º for 25 to 28 minutes.
Makes 12 fairly large muffins.

These muffins freeze and thaw well.  Parchment muffin cups can be reused if removed and shaped again.  If you lay them flat, they're pretty hard to get back into the muffin tin.

The Boston Brown Bread recipe is from the More With Less Cookbook, published by Herald Press in 1976.  This is the first cookbook that I was ever interested in.  I still use certain recipes and this Boston Brown Bread is one of my favourites.  It uses no sugar, no fat and no eggs.  Sweetening comes from molasses.  If you'd like the recipe and can't source it, let me know by email and I'll add it to a post.

The loaves of 50% brown bread are from my own recipe.  I load the ingredients into the breadmaker and run the short dough cycle.  If you use the longer dough cycle the texture of the bread is a little finer.

(Load in order suggested by your bread machine.)
12 oz. lukewarm water
1 egg
3 TBS Canola oil
Combination of whole wheat and white flour to add up to 4 cups.
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup of flax seed, ground in a spare coffee grinder  (Leave some seeds whole.)
(2 TBS wheat gluten -- to help the bread rise.  This can be omitted.)
2 tsp. bread machine yeast

When the dough cycle is complete, divide the dough into two equal parts, form the parts into loaves, grease the loaves and place them in parchment lined glass bread pans.  Let rise for approximately 45 minutes.  Bake in a 350º over for 30 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  When cool, store in plastic bags.  Freezes well.

I grind my own whole wheat flour from organic Hard Red Spring Wheat, using a Whisper Mill that we bought in 1996 for $400.  Have used it for pretty much all our bread since then.  I find that whole wheat bread (even 100% whole wheat) rises significantly better if the flour has just been freshly ground.

Now cut the "heel" off your fresh bread and spread some butter and home-made raspberry jam for a mouth-satisfying treat--no matter what time of day.  ENJOY!

Friday, September 9, 2016


This week I pulled up the rest of the Fava bean plants and made another one of those veggie stews.  While I was at it I pulled up all the soy bean plants that the deer had been grazing on, preventing them from ever bearing any beans.  Next to them was a row of other beans, kind of yellowish and tough.  I pulled them up also and added them to the green stuff laid out on the beds to decay and add to the soil.

Later on I happened to look at my garden notes and realized, THOSE WERE THE BLACK TURTLE BEANS!  OOPS!  I went to the garden and picked all the pods off the discarded plants, took them into the house and shelled them.  Well now, this is kind of sad, isn't it?  Here's the harvest of what are supposed to be Black Turtle beans:

Just a few had turned black, some were beginning to turn, but the majority were very small and green.  They should have been left to mature and dry in the garden.  Maybe next year!  I popped the green Black Turtle beans into the stew pot, and they melded right in with the rest of the veggies.  The stew was delicious!

Monday, September 5, 2016


Well, here we are on Labor Day, one of the last weekends to go camping for the summer of '16, and the weather is COLD!!!  Got up yesterday to +2º, got up this morning to +4º.  For this morning's walk I wore: a hoodie, and a Goretex shell, a knitted wool toque, and a pair of acrylic gloves.  That was just right for the temperature and the wind!

After the walk I went to the garden and harvested the remaining Broad Beans (aka Fava Beans).  Here's the haul:

I pulled up all the plants and pulled off any broad bean pods.  When I shelled the beans I separated the smaller ones for immediate use.  The larger ones will be processed and put into the freezer.

I also picked whatever tomatoes were ripe, some little WallaWalla onions that were obviously not going to get any bigger, having lost their green tops to deer, and whatever Pattypan squash were big enough to use.  

In the house I prepared them for cooking and combined everything in a large pot.  I added some parsley (fresh), some basil (already dried and crumbled), the tomatoes (cooked and put through the mill to remove the skins).  Also added some chicken and beef concentrate and a mild Italian sausage, cut into very small bits.

So here's dinner today.  We'll add a slice of homemade, whole wheat bread to that, a glass of white wine and have a lovely meal.

This is what's left of my attempt to grow soybeans.  You can see how the deer have consistently sheared off the tops of the plants.  Makes for good, compact plants, but no soy beans.  Oh well, in AZ at Sprouts there are lovely, frozen soy beans, Edamame, that we enjoy at least once a week.

Shall I try again next year?  Also missing from the harvest: any sign of black turtle beans. Never came up, evidently.  Try again next year!

Friday, September 2, 2016


Yes, we have lots of turnips ripening in the garden!  Most of the veggies in the garden did very poorly.  Only three beets came up.  The deer ate the tops of all the onions.  They also polished off the soy bean plants.  The lettuce flourished but not the spinach.  But the turnips!  Oh, the turnips came up as thick as could be.  I thinned them a few times, and now there is a row of fat, round turnips all ready to be used.

Most recipes for turnips say: peel them, cut them into cubes, boil them, mash them and add some butter.  That gets a little boring.  But this week I came across a recipe for CRISPY TURNIP "FRIES."  You can find it on  It involves cutting turnips to french-fry stick size, oiling them and combining them with Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika and onion powder.

I substituted garlic powder for garlic salt, used some celery salt and paprika and skipped the onion powder because there was none in the cupboard.  This was an excellent recipe that gave the turnips a completely different taste.  Delicious!

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Yesterday I gave myself permission to "take a day off"--except for cooking, dishes, etc.  Instead I started a new knitting project.  I had received a free pattern for a cowl and was itching to try it.

From the stash I chose a beautiful variegated blue/green/purple yarn that I had bought a year ago just because it was so lovely.  I cast on 156 sts. using both ends of the ball of yarn.  With a long, long piece of yarn for the "tail" you can cast on a huge amount of stitches and for large amounts that's far easier than trying to guess how long a tail is needed.  I put yarn stitch markers at every 24 stitches to keep track of where in the pattern I was.  The pattern was given as a chart and knitted in the round.

One of the nice things about this pattern is that the number of stitches is reduced by 13 every eight rows so as you knit you progress faster and faster.  What fun!

At the end of the day I had a completed cowl.  But it was very curled up!  Both the beginning and the end tried to meet at the middle.  The rest was a nice, puffy cable-patterned cowl.  Even though I knew better I heated the steam iron and steam-ironed the cowl flat.  The yarn was acrylic and I knew what would happen so I have no one to blame but myself for the flat thing that resulted.

It's just 4 inches long.  The picture with the pattern showed a much larger cowl.  And the pattern explained that the first eight rows of the pattern were repeated.  You can source this pattern at  The name of the pattern is "Welter".  The free pattern was a special offer to blog readers.  Her blog is called Violently Domestic.

This cowl will be repeated sometime soon, and probably paired with a hat.  I think the pattern could easily be changed to become a hat pattern.  Start with a good sized ribbing, and then figure out how many repeats of the 12-stitch pattern are needed, and go from there.