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Focus on the mayo, not the broccoli

When I was in my early twenties, and of a clubbing mentality, I would frequent a local dance club that catered mainly to the gay male of our species, and played the best club music around. As a straight female, this was a pretty safe place to hang as long as one was comfortable with co-ed bathrooms and all that implied in a gay dance club. Sure, my wardrobe probably wasn’t up to standard, but I could bust a move, and as long as I was allowed to pee in peace all was good.

One evening my to-be-husband and I decided to take our then roommate to this club, forgetting it was male stripper/dancer night.

Oi vey.

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Some days you just have to yell, “it’s chicken soup makin’ time!”

While last week was exceptionally warm (ok. stupid hot), this week has been seasonal and sunny, and Sunday, inparticular, called for soup.

And a slipper.

Yep. Sunday I knitted a slipper.

You see, last September I got this bright idea for a huge  basket of mis-matched slippers for guests to wear while visiting, as we keep our house on the cool side and have all hardwood flooring. The only problem with this grand plan was my complete and utter inability to knit.

Solution? Put it out on Facebook and then meet in a pub and learn! After two lessons I was comfortable enough to attempt basic slippers and off I went. (the process of me learning is a whole other storey. slip knot? nope. can’t tie one)

I now have the basket of slippers, of varying sizes and colours, but on Sunday I had to finish a “pair” for me. The time spent babysitting chicken noodle soup seem like a good time to me.

making basic broth

I started early in the day, making the broth from scratch. Now, I like a simple, basic, broth as well as one that is not watery – but I don’t like to go as far as a “cream” soup.

I simmered the bones for a few hours, until the meat pretty much fell off with a mere poke. I didn’t add anything else during this process, just water and bones.

Once the basic broth was ready, I drained the liquid and returned it to a pot, putting the bones/meat aside for later. I then added two cleaned chopped potatoes (white or sweet, I’ve made it with both) and a large pealed and chopped carrot, some ground pepper, some onion, and some garlic greens.

I let this simmer for a couple more hours; I kitted and cleaned in between checks. Once  the potatoes and carrots were cooked through, and flavours were all mixed together, I used my immersion blender and blended the crap out of the pot’s contents, resulting in a nice thick chicken/vegetable broth. I then added some oregano and thyme, a bit more pepper, and a dollop of balsamic vinegar. I also picked over the bones and added chunks of chicken.

About an hour before dinner I added a couple of handfuls of egg noodles. At this point, my daughter wandered in and asked if we could add dumplings.

Uhm.

Yeah!

making dumplings!

But I told her she had to make them. After the 9 y/o squealing had subsided, she dug out the recipe card and got to work. 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp of baking flour,  1tbsp butter, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup milk later, she was a mixing fool and I had a flour covered kitchen.

We brought the soup up to a slow boil and she dropped the dough in using an ice cream scoop.

cooking dumplings!

It took a bit for me to convince her that the dumplings would “grow”, but she finally agreed that maybe I would know and dropped small balls in. We returned the soup to a simmer and let it go for 20 minutes.

Then we ate it all!

I thought I took a picture of the final product, but I guess not. We were probably too excited to eat.

But I can show you my pair of mis-matched slippers, made with double yarn for that extra comfy feel.my mis-matched pair!

**disclaimer :: I do know how to knit a pair of slippers, I just choose not to!**

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some days you just have to yell, “it’s dog food makin’ time!”

This is shaping up to be a week of prep and store for me, which is all good, but may lead to a less balanced blog.

Whatever.

I’m the princess here, so suck it up.

Yesterday I made a batch of the pup’s food, which is always entertaining as he glues himself  to my leg until it is done and he is served. I’m not sure why this is a big deal for him, as this is his regular food, not a treat, and it is made approximately once a week.

mmmmsweet potatoes

I start with sweet potatoes, just one, which sends him into a tizzy. I always ensure a few small pieces fall to the ground during the cutting process. I don’t worry about peeling them, but do give them a good washing before chopping.

Into the bottom of a pot – with about a 1/4 cup of water – they go.

add carrots and garlic!

Then I toss in some carrots. The amount depends entirely on what I have in stock. This time around it was the last of a bag of baby carrots.

Then garlic. mmmmmmgarlic! My pup loves himself some garlic in his food. The garlic is tossed in as is, and I usually use the small bits I don’t cook with, because, well, they are small and I can just use them up in the dog food.

See. It all works out.

add the meat!

Then I add the meat, usually ground beef, but he has had turkey and chicken, and sometimes fish if I can get it on special. Again, the amount depends on what I have in stock, but I have noticed I tend to work in thirds; one third potato, one third … oh, you get it.

Toss the lid on and set it to a high simmer, mixing it up occasionally.

When the food is almost cooked, I usually add some fruit. Again, it’s what’s on hand and will go with the meat/veggie combo. This time around I added an apple, and as with the potato, I need to make sure a few small nibbles hit the ground while chopping. The last time he had salmon I used blueberries and rice with carrots.

blend!Once everything is cooked, blend the food up, leaving a few chunks, if that’s how your dog rolls. Package it up and refrigerate or freeze.

This is the only food my dog gets. We do not (unless there is some kind of travelling need) purchase commercial dog food.

And yes, this is less expensive as well, for a couple of reasons. We have a small dog. He doesn’t weigh more than 17-20lbs, and most of that is fur. He get’s about a half-to-full cup for breakfast, and the same for supper – if he gets it, that is.

Because our dog also get’s to eat what we eat, depending, of course, on what we eat.

Bacon and poached eggs for breakfast? We make him a plate. Homemade burgers for supper with sweet potato fries? Yep, He gets that, but without the bun and condiments. Boiled eggs with homemade hummus, fresh yogurt, and veggies? You betcha!

And all this is less expensive because we use what is on hand. No special purchases for his food. And for a bonus our dog is not picky, and he’s healthy from all the real food.

We don’t add any special vitamin mixes to his food, as we try to suppliment with treats he would eat naturally, if he was wild and able to fend for himself.

max

Which he is not. He is essential a walking stuffy.

Raw bison bones and dehydrated livers from the butcher, to name a couple of his favourite treats.

So, our puppy is healthy, happy, and by some standards quite spoiled, while we get to be frugal in our spending and continue along our path of exploring and switching to all real foods.

Do you feed your pets real food? What recipes do you use? Are you pets happy with their real food?

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so. with a winter snowfall warning in effect

While the end of February may not seem like a good time to discuss the garden and what food stuff I plan to put away in the fall, it is. It really is. February is the time I can make crazy plans in my head without worrying about the need to jump into action come the weekend. February also gives me three long months in which change these plans, search for items to repurpose for planting containers, and to decide which plants in the house will go to summer camp. Yes, three months. In Ottawa one shouldn’t really consider putting things into the ground until mid to late May. Yeah. May. (Why do I live here?) Then there is the fact that I live all urban, leaving me with not much space to plant. But I do well with what I have, if I do say so myself. …..

Louisa, over at The Really Good Life , asked what garden plans one might have this week, and my only answer can be, none. Nope. Nada, Zilch. No gardening for me. It has started snowing again and we are expecting 15 centimetres, or so. I can’t even wrap my brain around the idea, not even if I had a green house. (which I totally would had I the space)

But that doesn’t mean I don’t garden on a “small, indoor sense”.

Because, you see, I do seeds.

But not in the “let’s start my plants indoors” way.

avocado plant

1 year old avocado plant, started from seed

In the “hey! look, I have a pile of seeds left over from eating dates!” way.

So, this week, I’ve planted 6 date seeds, 3 avocados, and a handful of pepper seeds.

I also took this time to poke and feed my existing avocado plants, all of which (about 4) will head to summer camp this year.

Summer camp, when I drag my tropical or food plants outside to the porch, deck, or garden until mid-September. Summer camp, the time that sees the most growth in the previous mentioned plants. Summer camp, the time that gave me a 6.5 foot banana plant. Continue reading