Thursday, July 30, 2009

Look how pretty I am! Lauren gets her ears pierced.

Okay, I'm ready...
On your mark...
I've wanted to take my youngest daughter to get her ears pierced since she was a baby but once she passed a certain age, I couldn't do it anymore since I knew she wouldn't understand and probably would be inconsolable. I'll never know, but that's just what I thought. I guess ear piercing for a girl could be equated to a boy having a circumcision procedure, no? Ok, probably not. But either way, more than likely, if you had a boy, you'd never as a child have to contemplate whether or not and when if you decided to have his ears pierced.

Well, Lauren is a big girl now - almost four in less than 4 weeks! She decided on her own, as I let my eldest daughter, as to when she was ready to have her ears pierced. After all, I myself, didn't have my ears pierced until I was 10! I have fond memories of my father taking me to the department store, Eaton's down at the Toronto Eaton Centre. My mother would always say "No, you're not ready." I knew I was. It was after a dentist's appointment during the day, and I quietly asked my father if I could get earrings. He said YES! Oh, that was one of the best days of my life. I wanted to SHOW THEM OFF! I was SO happy!

I haven't been regularly wearing earrings over the last few years, so when I put a pair of diamond studs on (fake, of course but don't tell!) a few days ago, Lauren said, "Oh mommy, those are PRETTY!", I asked if she wanted to wear earrings too. Her response was "yes" over the last few days, so I guess she was ready.Get set...

I was hoping that Lauren would be as happy as I was when I got my ears done, and she was. She stopped crying the moment she looked into the mirror, we got her a frozen yoghurt and headed home. She burst through the garage door and called for daddy to look at her pretty earrings. THen when her Uncle Peter, Auntie Grace and all her cousins came over, she was happy to show her ears off to them as well.Go...
Oh, that wasn't SO bad...I'm pretty
All better now.

Noah's Ark Cookie Cutouts

The Blessings Cookie Kit by Hallmark
Look what I made!
Need a little break! Mmmm...popsicles!Make sure it's all mixed up...Then roll the chilled dough out and cut with your favorite cutters.Place the cut out dough on a cookie sheet.Place cookies in a preheated oven and wait patiently...Et voila! Scrumptious sugar cookies!

My friends Christine and Susan dropped by on my birthday a couple of weeks ago and got Lauren this cute little Noah's Ark Cookie making kit for Lauren. The cute little animal shapes made it that much more fun and exciting for Lauren. The problem was that when making sugar cookies, they have to be refrigerated for about an hour before rolling out. She had a blast rolling, cutting, baking and eating these when they were done!

I didn't use the recipe that was provided in the mini cookbook included in the kit because there was an ingredient that I didn't have on hand I think. I did use this recipe but the cut-outs puffed up a bit too much. They were more cake-like than cookie-like. They tasted yummy and I think I ate the bulk of them - what's new? I think the problem was that when we were about to roll them out, I left them out too long, back to room temperature.

I got this recipe from allrecipes.com with great reviews. This recipe is VERY easy to roll out.
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A New Fridge - Hubby Thinks I'm Nuts (AmI??)

Don't Like: The Kenmore basic panel with the refrigeration temperature controls inside fridge.Like: Samsung's at-a-glance control panel with accurate temperature readings on the outside.

Like: Kenmore's compact ice maker which only uses up about two shelves of the door.
Don't Like: Samsung's ice maker which takes up the upper shelf of the freezer plus a couple of shelves of the door. Like: the extra storage of the "cupboard" to the right of the icemaker which can fit about 3 pizzas and more.
Don't Like: Kenmore's freezer upper shelves are not adjustable, leaving approx. 15"+ of space on a mid-level shelf with a gap to the back of about 4" which could lead to food falling off and blocking the circulation of the cold air. How are you suppose to stack anything? In pyramid form? Also, only 1 basket.
Like: Kenmore's extra freezer space due to the compact ice maker.

Don't Like: Kenmore's shelf above on the crisper drawer is not tempered glass!! How are you suppose to put anything on it?? The floor model in the store IS though.
Like: Samsung's nicer interior and separate temperature controlled compartment to quick thaw, quick freeze, etc.


A few weeks ago, our Frigidaire Professional Gallery which was only about 10 years old totally failed on us! I think that we actually got more time than we should have since the first time I had it serviced for a broken ice dispenser/water switch, the guy commented that he was surprised I hadn't had any problems with it previously. It was quite stressful, as replacing the refrigerator was definitely was not in our budget at this time - such a huge expense! It's incredible how much we take this great invention for granted, until we no longer have the use of one.

If it were winter, it might not have been as bad, since I could use the garage as a refrigerator. A garage actually comes in quite handy, not only to protect our cars in the winter to save us also from cleaning the snow off in the mornings, but also to use as an extra cold storage space if the fridge is full. I place things that need to be colder further away from the entrance to the door, and anything that we don't want to have freeze, must sit close to the entrance to the mudroom. We take advantage of mother nature and am glad especially when we have parties in the winter time when both the deep freezer and small fridge in the basement are packed tight. BUT it IS NOT winter, and so it goes...

For a couple of months, it was kind on not cooling properly but I refuse to put in any money into the fridge because of the age. Perhaps it might have been a simpler solution than waiting for it to die the way it did. The freezer was not freezing ice cream past the stage of a nice thick milkshake, concentrated juices would remain liquid and even freezie pops wouldn't freeze which was beyond my comprehension since meats and frozen vegetables and fruits froze solid and remained that way until I needed them.

With the bad combination of a full tub of ice sitting in the freezer's dispenser, and a fairly warm day, without the air conditioning on, this proved to be a disaster. In the morning, we thought the milk wasn't as cold as it should be. We ice from the ice maker was dripping quite furiously, so I just emptied it all out into the sink and mopped up the floor. We continued to open and close the door throughout the day and by mid-day, we realized that there was condensation on our bottles in the refrigerator. I didn't give it much thought until my son called me to come take a look downstairs at the ceiling! Holy s***! About a 3 square feet area of the ceiling was stained and stucco falling away! I had to quickly empty the contents into fridge and deep freezer downstairs and gave away a huge bag of veggies to my brother.;( See that black mark in the middle of the pic? That's what one of those sticky spider things left when the kids decided to throw it up on the ceiling. Did they think earth was lacking gravity and it was going to "crawl" along the ceiling?? On the walls, boys! On the walls next time - and outside!

More money into the money pit, this was all it meant! Depressed, stressed and far from being a happy camper and buying a new fridge under duress is also not a good combo. My husband now spent a day of his vacation with me scouting out fridges at Lowes, Home Depot and Sears. Generally, I'm pretty easy to please. I know what my needs and wants and we ended up with a Sears Kenmore fridge which was the lowest price of the year. Generally, I don't shop at department stores. I feel that they up their prices but a lot of the Kenmore line is (but won't be much longer) made by whirlpool which is quite good. Consumer's Report always gives them a good rating, so we were in and out of Sears in less than 15 minutes. This is after spending all morning thinking we were going to buy an LG fridge.

What the heck was I thinking??? I'm not really sure. Two days later, the fridge was delivered. I opened it up and looked at the configuration of the shelves and instantly hated it! Everything except for the newly designed ice dispenser which only took up the first two shelves of the freezer door, I HATED IT! I think I had grown too attached to my last fridge which had three baskets (this one only had 1), there weren't enough shelves on the door, the piece of glass over the vegetable crisper was not tempered glass, and therefore not suitable for using as a shelf. The wire shelves in the freezer had a 3" gap to the back with a unadjustable shelf which meant that it would be over 12" high. How do you put stuff in there without it falling to the back and blocking the cooling system? Do I have to stack it in a pyramid fashion? I don't think so.

I dropped my son off at soccer and headed directly back to the store to check out whether this is what we signed up for. The glass shelf that should've been in ours was in fact tempered glass in the floor model. The sales lady didn't care and gave me attitude and told me that I just didn't like the fridge (she was darn right) but went to say, "what difference does the glass shelf make?" Maybe she wasn't too bright afterall and I went straight to customer service. The lady there was very nice and informed me that they do offer a customer satisfaction guarantee but read the back of the receipt, with a restocking fee which in this case was 20%! Not to mention a $75 pick up fee. So, if we wanted to avoid the charges, then we'd have to buy something from Sears and it would be a straight exchange. Where does that leave us? We are basically forced to buy from them again even though we found good deals in the meantime.

I saw this Samsung refrigerator (model RS277ACRS) when I went back which was in our price range and thought that was what I wanted. There are glass shelves in the freezer and drawers in the freezer which makes for easier storage. The shelves looked nicer in both compartments and also has a meatdrawer with a separate temperature control system to quick freezer or thaw meats. Hmmm. When we get back from our trip, I'm going to buy it. I did have 30 days, afterall. The problem was that it was about $600 more. Should I or shouldn't I? My husband thinks that if it's going to save him the headache of listening to me complain everytime I opened the fridge door for the next 10 or 15 years, then $600 is nothing! Go for it, he said. If it'll make you happy, go for it.

So, when we were in Montreal, I made up my mind. How? My wonderful brother-in-law, who knows how much I love reading Consumers Reports publications always picks up copies for me during our visits, since he probably knows I won't pay the $8 for each copy. I thank him for his thoughtfulness and kindness. Well, the exact Samsung fridge was a CR Recommended Buy this month. That's it! I was SOLD! I will suck it up and be happy whenever I pull on the handle of the new fridge door.

Last Friday, I once again, marched into Sears Home to tell the sales guy who sold it to us, what the problem was and what I want. But before doing that, I went online to do a search on the model number to price compare. I had taken photos of the Samsung store after delivery of the Kenmore, I photographed the manual which was inside the fridge but I couldn't find a single thing on it - no reviews, or prices on the specific model. I lucked out and went on Sears.ca and it was $200 off. I cut and pasted the exact model number (I was missing 4 digits), and one result came up. Believe it or not, Futureshop's regular price is $600 less than Sears regular price!! How the heck can they justify that huge of a price difference?? Well, I just printed it out, walked into the store and showed them then two printouts. The girl at customer service was delightful and did not give me an ounce of trouble. In fact, she was actually very knowledgable and helpful. We paid the $90 difference and had the fridge delivered today. Ahhh! What a difference this fridge makes. I LOVE IT! I am almost giddy about it. Who would have thought one could get so excited over a fridge??

Friday, July 17, 2009

Refreshing Summer Pasta Salad



I love this refreshing pasta salad anytime of year, but especially in the warm summer months.

8 cups cooked rotini pasta (I use Smart pasta)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 apple, cored, and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1 can mandarin oranges with juice
Italian salad dressing, to taste

Throw all your ingredients into a large bowl and toss. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Leftover Flattened Chicken = Noodle Soup


What do you do with leftover chicken? There are a lot of things you can do with leftover chicken. You can make chicken salad, chicken sandwich, chicken lasagna, chicken potpie, chicken filled phyllo and whole lot more, but I decided to make a simple chicken noodle soup.

cooked chicken, off the bones
4 cups of pasta, cooked as per instructions
2 cups of frozen or canned vegetables
1 15 oz can of seasoned diced tomatoes
1 large carton Campbell's chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything in a pot and bring to a boil. Serve with some fresh bread.

Garage Sale Treasures



I haven't been garage saleing for a while but the last time I went, I think I came home with some pretty good finds. What do you think?

These brand new Sharpies (I LOVE Sharpies) for $3 and the cake lifter was free (my favourite word)!
All these books and CDs for $3!

I figure that one day when I do start knitting for my grandchildren these lovely books would come in handy. You're welcome to borrow them in the meantime...
$1 for both brand new items(the plate stand has at $35 price ticket still on it!)
$5 step stool for the washroom. It looks and fits in the powder room better than the white Rubbermaid stool we were pushing around. It was in tip top shape until I took it home!
$3 for this libary bound copy -I think she worked for the library and ordered book at a discounted price. The knitting books were from the same seller. The books were all in perfect condition.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flattened Chicken


Peppers, peppers and more peppers...

Amish vendors selling their fresh maple syrup and handcrafted furniture.

Fresh veggies and baked goods.


The line up for the Apple Fritters go way out the door and they have a constant flow of patrons.




We went to St. Jacob's Market in Kitchener-Waterloo, which is an Amish community based farmer's market. It was started by the Amish but most of the vendors are run by people who live "normal" lives, pretty much like ourselves. We got some fresh veggies and a couple of roasting chickens for dinner. Even some fresh AUTHENTIC Montreal Bagels are sold there. They must somehow truck them in each week. A bit pricey but at least we don't have to make the trek. Everything is SO fresh (as it should be at a farmer's market).

There's a place that sells fresh fried apple fritters. Mmmm!! I've gotta find a recipe for their batter. They peel, core and slice the apples into rings, dip in batter, deep fry until golden brown, and then dip in brown sugar and cinnamon (what wouldn't taste good dipped in brown sugar and cinnamon??). The line ups are out the door and silly me, lined up for nearly 35 minutes to get a dozen of these little hip-inflating suckers! Well worth the binge extra 2000 calories though! :)

This coming weekend, we are leaving for Montreal to visit family and then on to Mont Tremblant for a few days. Unfortunately, the weather is not looking too good for that part of the country.

For dinner, I split the fresh roasting chickens in half and seasoned with a marinade and let it stand for only about two hours but it was still juicy, full of flavour and VERY delicious. I'm sure if it marinades for at least 3 hours or overnight, it would be even better!

For two chickens:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1/4 cup of fresh chopped oregano
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice
1 tsp praprika
2 tbsp fresh chopped lemon grass, if desired

1. With a cleaver or kitchen shears, chop or cut the chicken down the back side. Remove all the extra fat plus the bum.

2. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and pour over the chicken. I also sprinkled both sides with praprika before placing on the bbq.

3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Lay chicken in a large Tupperware or ziplock bag and pour over chicken, making sure it is coated. Also, try to spoon some of the marinade under the chicken skin. It makes a huge difference in the the flavour of the meat.

4. Marinade in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours or overnight, turning a few times.

5. Preheat bbq to about 300 F (or low heat) and grill bone side down, turning once until done, about 1:15 total cooking time.



Before putting the chicken on the grill, I sprinkled liberally with praprika.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

My first Blog Award


I got an award! I got an award! I'm glad that someone out there is reading my nonsense. :)

Thank you, Bergomot - Cooking Escapades for sending this to me. If you like Indian food, then this is the blog for you!

I would like to send it to a few other bloggers that I love to follow along when I have the time, to tell them that I really appreciate their hard work!

Fork in Food
Cate's Plate
She Simmers
Angelnina's Cottage
Lovin' From the Oven
Little Corner of Mine
Just Jenn Recipes
Lily's Wai Sek Hong

Angel Food Cake


Simple angel food cake with fresh whipped cream and farm picked berries.


In case the beaver tails didn't work out, I also baked an angel food cake which was featured in the July, 2009 issue of Canadian Living magazine.We didn't end up eating it because the beaver tails did happen to turn out great, but I snuck a little piece and topped it with fresh whipped cream and freshly picked strawberries my great neighbour passed along to us, just because I had to try to be sure that it was a keeper. Well, it is.

1 1/4 cups sifted cake and pastry flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups egg whites (10-12 but I used egg whites in a carton I had in the freezer)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Into bowl, sift flour with 1/2 cup of the sugar; sift again into separate bowl. Set aside.

2. In large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy; beat in lemon juice, cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form. Beat in remaining sugar, 2 tbsp at a time; until stiff glossy peaks form. One quarter at a time, sift flour mixture over top, gently folding in each addition until blended. Fold in vanilla, Scrape into ungreased 10" tube pan. Run spatula through batter to eliminate any large air bubbles; smooth top.

3. Bake in 350 F oven until cake springs back when lightly touched, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn pan upadie down and lt hang on legs attached to pan, or on bottle, until completely cooled. Remove from pan. Serve with your favourite toppings.

Meringue.
Fold in sifted flour/sugar mixture.


Pour into tube pan put a knife through the batter to eliminate large air pockets, and smooth out.
Bake at 350 F until done, remove from oven and turn upside down on legs or on a bottle to cool.Put a knife around the rim to loosen cake before removing.
Serve as is or with toppings.