Monthly Archives: April 2016

friday favourite – get out(side)

Last week, my sister wrote that hiking was her favourite first of the season. I love hiking but nothing says spring time to me like being able to get out my road bike. The temperature needs to be above 50F and the roads have to be free of sand and salt.IMG_3875

I feel fast and alive on my bike, like I am clearing out the winter cobwebs.

HAR

where’s my dinner?

Anybody else find that the change of seasons first brings lethargy, before putting a spring in your step?

I have completely run out of food ideas. I know they will come back. I’m not signing up for takeout. But it’s something I notice that seems to coincide with a new season.

I’m ready to give up the stews, hearty soups and meatballs – along with my black winter work outfits – but I’m just not quite there yet with the tabouli, grilled  vegetables and endless dinners on the BBQ.

I went through the motions today to make vegetable lasagna. I managed to grate a carrot and apple with a little mayo, lemon juice and greek yogurt for a side salad.

Anybody else feeling the seasonal drag? Or what are you making these days on this in between season?

CJR

 

 

Hudson Bay stripes

Canadian followers will know about the iconic stripes of the Hudson Bay Company. Canada’s first and longest merchant began business in 1670 – and you can read more of the history here.

We started giving the classic wool blankets as wedding gifts to nieces and nephews when that generation began to get married. The classic point blankets come in various colours – including the striped version below, red with black stripes and grey with black stripes. There is a rich history to their woolen warmth. Made in English, they were traded by the company (along with other goods) for beaver pelts from native fur traders.

We have recreated the four stripe pattern on handknit throws.

IMG_8803

And we’re slowly buying up the various totes and throws they sell to spread the stripes across the continent.

Although now U.S. owned, the Hudson Bay stripes continue to stand out in a crowd.

CJR

 

friday favourite – flower CSA again!

Below is the email from Grace at FiveFork Farms for my flowers this week. I am loving going to the market on Saturday morning to pick up my flower share and get her great emails. Can’t wait to sign up for next year!

Daffodils, also called by their botanical name ‘Narcissus’, are typically the first blooms to usher in spring here in Boston. We’re all familiar with the standard bright yellow “King Alfred” daffodil with its signature large trumpeted cup, but what you are receiving in your share does not resemble that characteristic form whatsoever. We hope you’ll be delighted by how unique these flowers are!

IMG_3878

HAR

traditional tea biscuits

The power of suggestion is pretty strong at my workplace…when it comes to food. A colleague was telling me about making biscuits recently, and how fast her young son put back 6 or 8 of the flaky goodness.

It got me thinking. And reminiscing. About tea biscuits.

It’s been years since I made them. But a James Beard cookbook (autographed to my mother) seemed a good place to start.

I actually couldn’t find a recipe listed as “tea” biscuit in any of my cookbooks. So under the B for “biscuits” it was. The recipe in the 1961 James Beard Cookbook kept things pretty simple when it came to naming recipes. After the basic biscuit recipe, you could choose the further descriptions for square, round, rich, fluffy, parsley, cheese, pungent or marmalade biscuits.

I kept it simple with the round variety.

Basic Biscuit Dough

2 cups flour – 5 tsp baking powder – 1 tsp salt – 2 tsp sugar – 5 T fat (about 1/3 cup butter) – 3/4 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter (I roll it in the flour and grate it into the mixture with a cheese grater). Work with fingers until mixture is evenly crumbly. Stir in just enough milk to make it a smooth, soft dough, not to sticky to be handled. Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead gently for 1 minute. Roll to about 1/2 inch thick, cut in rounds and place on buttered baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 450F, until lightly browned.

tea biscuits

Eat them all while they are still warm. Cheddar and apple butter, maple butter or just butter.

CJR

 

 

 

first of the season

Spring-time inspiration hit this past weekend. Whatever it is that you love about the spring, this was the weekend to get started.

speyside woods

For me, it’s hiking. I love the anticipation and planning out the trail. We headed out first thing Sunday morning for about an 8 km loop on the Bruce Trail. We hit the jackpot with the first perfect day we’ve had this year for hiking. No bugs. Blue sky. Cool in the morning. Summertime warmth when we finished up.

I love watching the first plants pop through the forest floor. There were coltsfoot, hepatica and trout lilies just popping out. And I even found a few wild leeks, but they need a bit more time to grow before I harvest them for this.

There is something pretty perfect about getting back outside in the spring. What’s your first of the season favourite?

CJR

 

matzo butter crunch

This stuff is addictive. I am warning you.

Passover is in a few weeks so I decided to make dessert first and hide it in the freezer. Ha! The problem is I know where I hid it and it tastes really good mid-afternoon.

It has all the healthy food groups: butter, sugar, chocolate and then it is baked on top of matzo. Here is the recipe and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Matzo Butter Crunch        Preheat oven to 350F

5 boards of unsalted matzo

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with foil and then the 5 boards of matzo.

Cook the butter and sugar over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over the matzo. Bake for 15 minutes, check to be sure it’s not burning. Remove from the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Let the chocolate melt and then spread it evenly. Let it cool completely then break into pieces.

HAR

 

 

 

100% satisfaction guaranteed

I have had two recent examples of retailers totally embracing their promise of 100% satisfaction guaranteed. When it happens, it is amazing and I feel a little guilty, like I am cheating. If something breaks after a reasonable amount of use, that’s just life, right?!  Not so with LLBean and KitchenAid! They now have my loyalty for life!

We purchased Adirondack chairs from LLBean many years ago, as in more than 8 years and I didn’t keep any record of the purchase. Two of the three wooden chairs have fallen apart. We were trying to figure out how to get rid of them when we decided to call LLBean. They said “return them and we will replace them for free.” We said WHAT?! They repeated their promise…

We believe in 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

We took a drive last weekend to the LLBean store an hour from our home (don’t worry you can ship things back if you don’t live near LLBean). We showed up with two chairs totally disassembled in the trunk of the car. A salesclerk helped us carry in the broken pieces, processed our return and placed the order for two new chairs! Wow! We almost ran out of the store since it felt like stealing!

Let me tell you about KitchenAid!

Crafted to Carry The Load

I had a KitchenAid for many years and when it died about 5 years ago, I replaced it. That was my first mistake…I should have called KitchenAid right then and there. The 5 year old mixer never worked right. Parts rattled and bolts came loose. Recently I was in Bed Bath and Beyond looking at the mixers and a clerk asked if he could help me. I explained my problem and he said “bring it in, KitchenAid stands by their product, we will replace it.” Again I said “WHAT?!” And the clerk repeated himself. I went home, packed up the mixer and hurried back that day since I was sure the clerk would realize his error if I waited. Not so, they replaced it on the spot and KitchenAid was running a rebate promotion so I got an additional $30 off the mixer.

Like they say, 100% satisfaction guaranteed. And they mean it!

HAR

friday favourite – CSA flower share

Last Saturday was the first pick-up of my flower share! Gorgeous two-toned violet and blue hyacinths – a variety called “Miss Saigon”- a favorite of the folks at Fivefork Farms for the intensity of color and their sweet fragrance.

I resisted the temptation to purchase additional flowers but enjoyed the beautiful colours on display at the market.

HAR