Saturday, June 30, 2007

Elvis Gets a Visitor.....

While I was outside watering the vegetable garden after work on Thursday, I could hear the sometimes neighbour in the woods. All of a sudden out popped a dog and of course Elvis had to go and check him out. He`s a pretty guy. I quick got hubby to grab the camera for me.......

His owner kept calling him and he wasn`t listening until finally he came to the fence at the edge of the woods in the back yard, apologized and convinced him to come away with him in some language that sounded Eastern European. Elvis and I didn`t mind his visit.

I want my friend back......

It`s Canada Day here on Monday and our long weekend...yeehaw!!! Monday (ouch...the traffic) we`re going to Toronto to help my daughter. My son and their Dad are moving her things and picking up her chair from here that I`m giving her and then bringing back the two chairs she`s giving me. They`re antiques but covered in ugly old apholstery at the moment. One of the girls she was renting with didn`t want them and left them behind. Who has time to mess with old chairs when there`s more interesting things to do like travel Europe eh? LOL
Whether your weekend is long or short, have a great one! The weather here, they predict, is going to be nice and sunny with no humidity. I`ll be mixing a few marguaritas :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chilean Meat Pies...Going Down Memory Lane...

also known as Empanadas

The first time I went to England, the second leg of my journey was to Devon where I stayed in Exeter with my cousins. Being a unniversity city, and my cousins also having unni boarders staying with them, I met a lot of people from different countries. One girl was from Chile and gave me a Chilean Pie to try. I loved it! Filled with meat and spices and eggs and olives. For years I tried to recreate that exact pie to no avail. Then along came the internet and I was able to find several recipes which I combined for this past Sunday`s supper to make what I remember as the exact pie I had in Exeter. Although I think her`s was a little hotter, next time I`d add some hot peppers into the mix. I served these with thick slices of tomatoes on the side.

Servings: 8-10 large empanadas

Put in a large bowl

3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Mix with a fork until combined.

Then add:

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
Cut the butter add shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.(I used a fork and my hands because I broke my food processor blade and don`t have a pastry thing-a-ma-jig) If using the food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Then, drizzle over the top:

11-14 tablespoons ice water
Mix gently with a fork until the flour mixture is dampened enough to gather into a ball. Shape into a flat disk, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 45 min.

Ingredients for the filling: Heat in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Then, stir in:

1 pound lean ground beef
Cook until the beef is browned. Then, stir in:

1 tablespoon Adobo Seasoning (recipe below)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives
4 chopped hard cooked eggs
cook stirring constantly to evaporate any pan juices. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

To Shape Empanadas:
Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Make sure that is thin, it makes for a better empanadas. Cut 6 inch rounds from the dough (you'll have to re-roll the scraps to get the 10-12 rounds). Spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling onto each round. Moisten the edges of the rounds with water, brings sides up together and press the edges together to completely enclose the filling. Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Brush the following mixture over the tops of the pies:

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of salt

Adobo Seasoning
(makes 1/2 c.)

3 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Onion power
1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Black pepper
1/2 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. Chili powder
1/2 tsp. Cumin.....* (I used only 1/4 tsp because I think it smells like stinky feet)
1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
Combine all and mix well. Store in an airtight shaker container or plastic bag.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Weird " I don`t really know what I`m doing" Gardens

I pulled off some dead branches over by the pond near the woods to make some tee pees for the beans because I planted them in 3 circles rather than in rows. Not very straight looking but definately "oh natural and recycled" LOL The tomatoes and peppers are doing great in the big pots to the side that isn`t showing here. Just have to make sure I water them everyday because they dry out really fast.

I`m not sure what this is that somehow found it`s way here in the "would have been, lovely bricked raised garden". I didn`t plant it. Some kind of melon? I don`t like melon. Unless it`s watermelon, yum. Squash? I don`t like squash either. Eck.

I love this sunflower plant. Had one last year and couldn`t figure out why it didn`t come back again. Then my Dad told me that it was an annual. For some reason I thought Sunflowers were perennials. A shame.

The climbing red rose is finally climbing this year...

I think I must have planted this pink one backwards because the highest part that`s supposed to climb against the wall is in front. I attached it slightly. Don`t know if that will help though.....

The clemetis is growing like mad this year. That big green clump is Shasta Daisies. They`ll be blooming soon...

This is the front garden with the funny cat jump up and down thingy so they can get in and out of the cat door in the window. It`s a little wilder looking than I had planned and there`s short flowers behind high flowers hehe. I added a few stepping stones just in case the cats feel like usig them rather than stomping on the flowers.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. We`re off to a little party at a friend`s house tonight :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fruit Filled Oven Baked Donuts

I never thought to take pictures so I had the tops on and sealed when I did remember LOL

1 package dry yeast(1 scant tablespoon)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour(approximately)
1 cup lukewarm skim milk
1 large egg
1 eggyolk
pinch of salt
grated zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons reduced fat butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup cherry pie filling, jam, or whichever fruit preserve you prefer
confectioner's or granulated sugar for sprinkling

1. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the water.
2. Put the flour in the bowl of a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the dissolved yeast, milk, egg, egg yolk, salt, lemon zest and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Process until blended. Add the butter and process until the dough becomes sticky yet elastic. ( I needed to add more)

3. Remove the dough to a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for at least an hour. If you want to prepare the dough in advance, place it in the refrigerator overnight, then let it warm to room temperature before rolling and cutting.

4. Grease and dust flour onto 2 cookie sheets. Dust a pastry board with flour. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using the top of a glass as a cutter, Cut into a dozen 3-inch rounds. Spoon 1 teaspoon of fruit in the center of half of the rounds. Brush edges with a little water then top with remaining rounds of dough which also have been brushed with water. Press edges to seal. Place filled rounds on a floured baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Cover filled rounds with towel and let rise for about an hour, until doubled in bulk. Place the balls about 1 to 1 1/2-inches apart on the greased cookie sheets. Cover and let rise 30 minutes more.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the doughnuts for 10 to 15 minutes or until they're golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.

6. Brush while warm with a bit of margarine or butter and sprinkle with confectioner's or granulated sugar.

It made me 10 filled donuts which aren`t too bad tasting at all. Haven`t tried one cold yet, but their nice while warm. I think I would add a bit more sugar next time to the dough for a sweet treat. These would also (without the sugar) be a great recipe to add a meat filling, cheese and veg or pizza filling instead!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Daisy Lupin...........

"Cats in the Cradle and Flora in the Garden"
was one of the very first blogs I`d ever discovered last year. Before I really knew what a blog was exactly. I fell onto her lovely blog set in the Lakes District of North England. I was shocked and saddened tonight, to find out that Daisy passed away this past Saturday. Although I never met her in person, she was a wonderful and friendly soul. My thoughts and prayers go out to her daughter Lydia, who was strong enough to log on to Daisy`s blog and tell us this sorrowful news. Also to her brother and Dad.

May she be looking down on her loving heart broken family and giving them some kind of comfort.

Yesterday I had a dark cloud hanging around me which really doesn`t quite want to leave yet unfortunately and one of the gazillion thoughts that crossed my mind on Monday was, what happens to blogs if their owner passes away? I really didn`t want to know the answer in the way I found out tonight though.
Hug the ones you love.............

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Paint Jobs and Elvis is a star....

Yippee! The weekends here. Hope everyone has a really nice one and that the weather is good for you. It`s supposed to be sunny and warm here all weekend.
I did these two projects a couple of weeks ago but haven`t been very up to date with posting so I thought I`d throw them up now.
The first is putting together the Bistro set. It was actually surprisingly easy and came with all it`s nuts and bolts

The green was nice and especially with the peonies but it was painted cheaply looking and I wanted black to match the trellis and back door.

So I painted it....

I like it black and it looks better in real. The umbrella was necessary because it gets really hot back here. Needs getting rid of the white colour pole at some point and having a small stand to hold it straight. Looks better without the umbrella. A roll up awning would be nice instead but not this year. The plants are from inside. I had them in the frontroom and they looked really nice when they were in bloom. Geraniums mostly. But they weren`t happy.

So their sat here now off the table and are looking like they may start to bloom again

Next project was painting this chair. I saw one in a magazine that caught my eye, especially with the pillow colours on it.

So I found some paint very close to the colour....

And painted it..

Showing just a tad bluer than it actually is.

Judypatooti over at "Memories are made of this!" blog makes her own greeting cards and would like to use Elvis as a model. It will be fun to see. He`s a star!

Have a great weekend dear bloggy friends and visitors. I`m off to weed "the was going to be a pretty brick raised garden but is a sight for sore eyes of dumped dirt and large black pots on a 3/4 finished piece of bricking.... yet hopefully edible " veg garden now :)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Messy Room Finally Sorted and Herbs....

Wow! I just downloaded these 5 pictures and they came up in quadruples! Very strange doings for blogger.
My girlfriend came over for a nice visit today and we sat outside for a bit in my extrememly all green but growing well garden( I don`t think I planted much that blooms this time of year).... and then came in and had tea and cookies and muffins. She forgot how tall Elvis was and lost 1 muffin and 1 cookie in the first 10 minutes off the table! She`d only walked over to put the kettle on came back and got up again for something else and there you have it. A lovely sweet treat twice over with variety had he, this afternoon. So much for his diet.
I finally carted out and sorted my daughter`s old room. Put the two drapes up a bit differently and layed the one area rug we kept over the carpet. Feels cozy in there now.
The wild looking chair that I call the "Rudolph Valentino" is going to live in Toronto next month. My daughter is moving and needs a bit more furniture. So I offered up that. She`s renting a house at the moment with two other girls that are moving away (one travelling Europe, lucky thing) and she really only owns a bed and dresser so far, and will be having her own little sitting room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom in the apartment of an old house to decorate and fill .
You can partially see one of my favorite pictures on the wall. It was originally just a black and white picture printed off the computer and I coloured it deep rich tones.
It`s called "The Fool" and represents in the world of tarot, the energies of having blind faith and a light heart about things that one might be worried about. It was something I did whilst looking for a job 5 years ago. Gave me some hope and inspiration whenever I looked at it and helped me to remember to have faith.

This is the overflow of all my books and ornaments. The two bookcases cost $50 together and because they`re just that cheap white press board, I painted them brown.
That strange high lump in the corner covered with a beige curtain is 2 huge speakers and a printer LOL They looked even worse without the curtain.

I bought some potting soil and what herbs I could find and stuck them in the two pots that hubby gave me.....
Stuck an "Empress of India" Nasturtium in the middle of each for some colour and because they are a good companion flower to herbs. They get brilliant red flowers. I`d love to grow some herbs in the kitchen over winter but I`m not sure they`ll survive. I`ll try and see what happens. I wanted some more rosemary but can`t find any. I love how they look in clay pots as they get bigger and how one can actually sculpt them.

How do you say herbs? I say it likes it`s written. Makes more sense to me. Herb the man isn`t called Erb and herb the plant sounds funny called erb even though one would say "an erb", I would much rather say "a herb" LOL

Elvis is such a sweet boy. Sweeter today especially after his stolen treats...the naughty thing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Aberfoyle Antique Market

I`ve been busy busy on my week off and have tons done! Over the next while I`ll post some of it. For now, here`s the pictures I promised...

It`s so big that they have street names....

There was massive amounts of furniture everywhere....

Loads of pottery and china inside and outside.....

A nice little spot to sit and rest....

Baskets galore and vintage clothing....

A little hot for that fur coat. It was muggy and humid but the rain held off luckily for the vendors...

I found a sewing basket with bits and bobs inside, a pretty blue-green vase/candy dish that matches and cream and sugar set I have (sitting on the table), a green duvet cover which oddly looks beige here, vintage Waverly fabric, pretty glass jar, tablecloth and a decorating book with loads of nice things inside. All in all I spent $70. Not bad :)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

On Our Anniversary...June 2nd

I was surprised with these nice big terra cotta pots!

And my lovely traditional red rose.

It went perfect at the table setting. That bistro set just arrived. We used hubby`s petro points at Sears. I`m going to be painting it black to match the trellis. I used the antique tablecloth that used to cover the little table in the kitchen. I`m going to leave it off and after I wash it, put it away to use instead of just look at.

Doesn`t this look delicious! It was. A joint effort of Italian Stuffed Pork Chops, a special salad and fresh steamed green beans. Check out the size of those olives! The chop recipe is from an Italian Food magazine and the recipe is at the end of this post.

Elvis also thought it looked yummy. Need more sand on those bricks...

How could we not?

Later on we had a piece of our wedding cake that my Mum made and saved for us and lit our wedding candles. It was a lovely day all round...

Italian Stuffed Pork Chops

4 thick chops
8 ounces Italian sausage, crumbled
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1 slice prosciutti, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup butter

1. Preheat oven at 350. Trim fat from pork chops and cut a pocket in the rounded side of each. Set aside
2. In a bowl, combine sausage, bread crumbs, prosciutti, mozzarella, garlic, and if desired, salt and pepper.
Press stuffing into each pocket of chops. Tie with 100% cotton kitchen string to hold stuffing.
3. In a large skillet, heat oil over meium high heat. Pat chops dry; brown in hot oil for 3 minutes per side. Place chops in a shallow roasting pan and set aside.
4. In the same skillet, add the onion, chicken broth, and butter. Bring to boiling; gently boil over medium heat about 10 minutes until liquid is reduced slightly. Pour over chops. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour.
Transfer chops to platter and remove string. Drizzle pan juices over chops.

Makes 4 servings

We bought this last year on our mini honeymoon and hubby mixed it with olive oil and pored it over some slightly roasted yellow peppers and onions and fresh romain lettuce. It was delicious topped with grated mozzarella cheese.
Steamed green beans and huge olives finished off the meal.

In a day or so, when I get a chance, I`ll post some Aberfoyle Antique market pictures. Almost didn`t have any because I was too busy looking at things and forgot! But my wonderful hubby insisted , despite his sore back, that we wonder over again after going to the car with the bags and take some. I bought a few goodies too :)