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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Oatmeal Eggwhite Pancakes

When I was into "clean eating", I learned how to perfect these. Now I make them because I'm always wanting to use up some more eggs, and they are so darn tasty!

Oatmeal Eggwhite Pancakes

-1/4 cup dry oatmeal (quick cook is fine)
-a dash of water
-3 egg whites
-cinnamon to taste
-fruit for the top if you wish
-choice of syrup
-Pam cooking spray (or some other type of nonstick spray)

First, measure out 1/4 cup of dry oatmeal into a small mixing bowl. I use whatever "quick cook"oatmeal I have on hand - cooks in 1 minute, or instant... it doesn't matter.

Then I pour in a little bit of water that is leftover from the kettle. It's often still warm, which I think helps to soften the oatmeal a bit first. I don't really measure, just enough to wet the oatmeal. Then stir it around with a fork. At this point I also add a few shakes of cinnamon, stirring that in.

I use our own chicken's eggs, so they are probably what would be considered "large" size, but again, it doesn't matter. Do you know the easiest way to separate yolks from whites? Crack your egg and separate it into two halves. Pour the contents of the egg from one half to the other, while letting the whites pour out and keeping the yolk in the half of the shell. It may take a couple of back and forths from shell to shell to fully separate, but it works like a charm. Don't worry if a little yolk gets in there. Either dispose of the yolks or keep for some other purpose in the fridge.

Stir the egg whites in with the oatmeal, water, and cinnamon. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Use a small nonstick frying pan. My nonstick frying pans aren't always nonstick, so I spray it with Pam. I generally spray the frying pan and have a little heat under it to get it hot while I'm making the mixture.

Pour your mixture into the frying pan and allow it to cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes. DO NOT TRY TO FLIP IT UNTIL IT IS NICE AND SET, ALMOST A LITTLE BIT CRISPY AROUND THE EDGES.  Honestly, just let it sit in the frying pan and cook. Walk away, check your phone, feed the cat... don't try to flip it if it's still a little bit soft and runny.

When it is browning up and the edges are a little crispy / firm, use a wide spatula to flip it, just once. This side won't take nearly the same amount of time to cook, so just give it a minute or so. It should come off looking like this:


This is not a light fluffy, cakey type pancake. It has the nice nutty texture of the oatmeal and an almost custard quality to the eggwhites. It's as if an oatmeal cookie married a custard.

Depending on the season, I might slice strawberries on it, or have fresh blueberries. However, right now it's peach season, so this is about half a peach cut up, with two tablespoons of maple syrup (actual maple syrup). For those of you who might be concerned, the pancake itself is 126 calories. Shown my way with the syrup and a half a peach it is 265 calories altogether.

Speaking of peaches, why is there such a limited window of opportunity when it comes to peaches?? One day they are sitting there, all lovely and pinky orange, just perfectly ripe and ready to eat, juice dripping down your chin. The next day they are moldy and grey at one end. I do take them out of the basket after I buy them and set them separately on a large serving platter. Doesn't seem to matter. Don't tell anyone, but I just cut off the yucky end and eat the rest! (But I wouldn't serve that one to you if you came for a visit).

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Bagpipes

Someone somewhere in our little village has taken up the bagpipes. They have practised every day in early afternoon. They are working on Scotland the Brave and aren't half bad. I've been known to almost tear up and have to choke down a lump in my throat when I hear bagpipes in a parade. They remind me of my father. No, he didn't play, but held on to his Scottish heritage.

Unfortunately, the only thing I can think of when I hear these pipes in the afternoon is this:


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

No Fruit, No Nuts

No fruit, no nuts - that's always been my insistence when it has come to planting any new trees on this property.  Although some favourite childhood memories come from time spent under a chestnut tree, collecting the shiny brown chestnuts, I know what a mess fruit and nut trees make. Since I am the gardener around here, it would be me cleaning it up.

Alas, we did not plant our old apple tree. It's been here longer than we have, that's for certain. Last year when we rented the beast of a wood chipper, we did a lot of cutting and trimming. One tree that got a good once over was the old apple tree. There were many dead limbs that needed pruning.

Well, naturally after that good hair cut, the tree has had a bumper year!

Unfortunately, these are not quality apples. They bruise the moment they hit the ground, are a rather soft fruit, and aren't terribly big. I think once I laboured over them to make apple sauce. It wasn't worth it. We don't spray, so there are wee critters that make their way through the apples. Mostly, I rake and dump. Sometimes I squish a few underfoot and toss them in the chicken run for the hens. They enjoy them.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of this task, here is a picture of having almost finished the last of the raking and dumping of apples.


I decided I would take a picture the very next morning to show you how many apples come down in less than a day.


I couldn't quite capture the full collection because they fall quite far (and roll) (into my flower bed). I didn't actually rake at all yesterday, so there is a tremendous amount out there this morning. I don't think I can leave it much longer without raking today! What about you? Any messy trees on your property?

And to round off the morning, I leave you with a hen in a box.


Her expression said, "Leave me alone, I have a job to do."

Monday, 12 August 2019

August 12, 2019

I've been somewhat absent from posting lately. It's mid August, a bitter sweet time for me. I feel like summer is slipping away, I'm thinking / not wanting to think about returning to the classroom (we go back in early September here), the nights are cooling off, the summer flowers have faded and look bedraggled.

A big part of our time has been taken up with pool issues. Last year, at the end of the season, it became painfully clear that we would need a new liner. We had some significant tears that had been repaired, but were beyond that now. We had such a cold, wet spring this year, and other factors, and it prevented us from getting to the point of getting things ready to order a new liner (we do the installing - we do not have a pool company that does the work for us). The pool was completely drained (not an easy task when it rains nonstop in the spring), detailed measurements were sent away to the company with which we were dealing to order the new liner, frogs were saved.


A pump can only do so much, after that you are working by hand - shop vacs are a beautiful thing!

'Twas a tag team effort, husband pushing the full shop vac up the slope and emptying it into buckets, me carrying full buckets of hideous swamp water up and out of the pool area to dump elsewhere. I got my workout that day!

What's the expression - as mad as a box of frogs? Well, here is a box of frogs. It was sooo hot that day. We managed to save quite a few frogs. A couple made their way back later.

The old liner was pulled out and eventually the new liner was shipped to us. Putting in a pool liner yourself is terrifying the first time you do it. There isn't a lot of room for error. It is slightly less terrifying the second time you do it, as you know which errors to avoid. Last time, I assisted husband. This time, son was available (he was 11 years old the first time - now much more of a help!).


Spiderman son clinging to the sides at the deep end.

There's a whole lot of lying on one's stomach in this part.


Gorgeous new liner being sucked into place by a shop vac (you can't see it in this picture), with water being added to the bottom. Bottom main drain cover has now been put in place by husband. As the water level rises, other intakes and skimmer holes, etc get cut out and re-installed.

Yes, this is all very late to be doing this now, in Ontario, where the main time for pools is June and July, but it could not have been left empty and undealt with through the winter. We will get a few swims out of it before the water becomes too cold and it will be time to "put it to bed" in the fall.

It was husband's birthday two days ago. We went to the drive-in! Drive in movie theatres are going the way of the dinosaur, but we are very fortunate to have one in the little town close to us. It was always a summer tradition to go to the drive-in with the kids when they were little. They would be dressed in their jammies, snacks would be brought, drinks in a cooler, and the van would be backed into place, so the back could be opened up. The kids would snuggle up with blankets and pillows in the back, watching the big screen, husband and I on lawn chairs. Sometimes we would just stay inside the vehicle because it was too cool, or buggy.

When we went two nights ago, very little had changed, there were young (and old) kids running around on the grassy area in front of the screen before the movie started, tossing a football around. Little ones were in their pajamas, ready for when they nodded off before the movie ended. Some people were in the backs of their pick up trucks, with air mattresses and pillows. It's a nice tradition. In the "olden days", of course, you pulled up and attached a speaker to your partially rolled down window.


source

Now, you tune your radio in to a particular station and listen to the movie over your vehicle speakers.
We saw both features, making it a late night! Son was able to join us when he was done work, missing only a little bit of the first movie. Daughter was there for both. Much older, and not dressed in their jammies, but still a nice bit of tradition. We saw "Shaw and Hobbs" with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham and "Yesterday", the movie about the Beatles' music. Both were good. The first was action adventure, but funny, which is necessary for me because I have little patience for violent good guy, bad buy movies, and the second one was also funny but sweet and I loved the music. I know the Beatles were not my generation's music, but I did go through a phase in university where I bought up tons of their old albums from a used record shop in the city and spent a lot of time listening to my favourites. Do you have a drive-in movie theatre near you?

Monday, 29 July 2019

Snapdragons

Snapdragons are magical flowers. They take me right back to my childhood. My mother often planted snapdragons in pots or in the "rockery". Did anyone else have a rockery, or was that just a term that my mother and grandmother used? It was a flower bed, lined with rocks and had special rocks placed throughout.

Snapdragons were wonderful because of their variation of colour, as well as the nifty trick you could do with them by squeezing the blossoms "just so" causing the little mouths to 'snap' open and shut.

I don't put snapdragons in every year, but I did this year in the window boxes on the shed. I like the rocket series because they are tall. Generally though, they bend and stretch, rather than staying completely upright. Here are some of the gorgeous colours they surprised me with:



Picking a favourite flower would be like picking a favourite child, but snapdragons might be in the top ten! What is your favourite flower?

Saturday, 27 July 2019

New Favourite Salad Ingredients or Save Me From a Boring Salad

I grew up with boring salads. I honestly remember leaf lettuce from the garden, diced white onion, and some sort of "cream" dressing. It was probably made from cream, a little bit of sugar, maybe a bit of vinegar. I ate it, because that's what you did.

Then I became a bit "obsessed" (lord, that's an overused word out there) with Caesar salads. It was THE THING to order from the menu. In fact, I would just have a large Caesar salad, nothing else. But it had to have real bacon on it (what are those nasty little nuggets of fake bacon??), big "homemade" croutons, a good dressing... I got into making my own, rubbing the inside of the bowl with a cut clove of garlic, washing the individual leaves of the fresh (i.e. not packaged in threes, plastic wrapped romaine hearts) romaine lettuce and getting out my little salad spinner, centrifugal forcing the water out of them like mad. When I was all worried about fat and calories, I used turkey bacon instead of real bacon (ridiculous). I might even have purchased anchovy paste for the dressing. This was back in university days, early 20's, thinking I was all chef-like and special.

But mostly, salads were tossed salads with the same old boring ingredients: lettuce, cucumber, peppers, onion, and if life was really exciting, some grated cheese. Open up one of the sixteen different bottles of salad dressing (and hope it wasn't one of the expired ones), and there you go - salad.

I also came from the era of the jello salad. Now how those could be called salads is beyond me. My Aunt Lois was the queen of the jello salad and a summer family gathering had to feature one of her famous salads. Think orange jello with grated carrot. (Uncle Ed in white undershirt and socks with sandals, husband of the Aunt Lois, would also come with a giant roasting pan filled with cabbage rolls - now THAT was memorable!!)

Where am I going with all of this? Well, here is my lettuce now:


It's doing quite well, and with frequent watering, should continue for a while. I've planted another little row, which hopefully will keep us in lettuce into August. Pretty as heck, but again, boring.

So... here's my suggestion for jazzing up boring old lettuce.


Nope, not a sponsored post (but again, Unico, etc. anytime you want to advance me some money...). Marinated artichoke hearts (I cut them up a bit), marinated sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers. I don't even know what capers are! Are they a seed, a bud, what plant do they even come from? Throw a few of any of these in with your lettuce, maybe crumble up some feta as well, how 'bout some red onion, slices of peppers, and maybe some Greek dressing, and BOOM!   Flavour.

These ingredients are also great with a cold pasta based salad as well (think orzo, or fusilli), or even great tossed with plain, hot spaghetti and a little pesto.

And for those of you wondering what I do with all those eggs (from the previous post)? Last night was a sausage and cheese frittata (uses up eight eggs!).


Hungry yet?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

July 25 '19

After the excitement of a birthday and an anniversary comes the normalcy of every day life. Because I am on summer break right now, my days consist of all the normal tasks that everybody is responsible for: tidying, gathering up garbage and blue box (recycling), making meals, laundry, getting groceries...

A big part of my time has been spent digging. As described before, I hand dug my vegetable garden where the strawberries and ridiculous amount of weeds and grasses had taken hold. Here is my garden now, with the plants that I had already put in (in the little space that was to be had in the late spring). Now I have thrown a few more seeds in the ground and covered them with husband-designed rabbit munching prevention devices. If some of them germinate and produce by the time fall frosts come, well then, that will be a success.  You can see the old carpet (upside down) on some of the bare earth. I want to see what else we have lying around that can be used on the other bare parts to kill off anything that I didn't manage to hand dig / pull.


I need to be more diligent in watering the plants that are already up. This heat has been pretty tough on growth (when there hasn't been much rain at all). I'm looking at the picture and it really doesn't fully show the size of the garden area that I dug up and weeded. It really makes the whole thing look quite small, but trust me- there was a lot of digging - in 28 degree heat with a humidex of 36, 38, even 40 (this is Celsius, by the way).

Anyway, late July is not as spectacular in the flower gardens as beautiful late June, but here are some of the highlights:

Salieri Daylily.

Cement planter with sweet potato vine, geranium, and coleus.

Our little arbor with potted red geraniums, covered in trumpet vine. There are some buds, so hopefully it will put on a decent show. The bugs tend to eat the buds before they can open.

Lucifer crocosmia.

Daylily, possibly 'red magic'.

So, the heat has been a little hard to take (I'm actually fine with it, but son, the cats, the chickens seemed to have more difficulty). Here is symmetrical Samson in one of his favourite spots, where he can look over his kingdom.


The chickens prefer it when things are little cooler. I think egg production was down a bit during the extreme heat. I made sure to give them fresh water every day. They have shade in their run as well. When I come out the back door, they race to the fence, as I am usually the provider of food. Their favourite is leaves of dandelions, although leftover mashed potatoes can send them into a frenzy as well.


Sorry, girls. No treats right now.

Now that most of the hens are old enough to lay, I get a lovely collection of eggs.


There is a whole variety of shapes, shades, and sizes depending on who laid what and how old they are.

And there you have it.


Sunday, 21 July 2019

Happy Anniversary

Our 28th year anniversary was yesterday and our tourism-y daughter prepared a detailed itinerary for us, which was good, since I'm always quite indecisive about what to do and where to go. The weather, which had been very hot and humid, calmed down a bit with the day being overcast and the temperature dropping a bit. Here are the highlights:


Jones Falls

So, here's the couple, doing the bad selfie thing. We started out with a walk through beautiful craggy limestone and ancient cedars to see a waterfall. The setting was magical - I love trails like this.


Dappled sunlight, woodsy smells, birdsong, things to climb on - lovely!







Next, we moved onward to a restaurant to enjoy one of husband's favourite things in life... a charcuterie board!!


His favourite, stilton, was part of this. There seemed to be more 'crustini' than cheese, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. I had a baguette sandwich which was very, very good. This place is all about cheese, so the sandwich had brie cheese in it. Who puts brie cheese in a 'ham and cheese' sandwich? Well, it was delicious!

This was the restaurant. The interior is nicely done, all brick walls and wood shelving.

After lunch, we drove a ways to a magical, wonderful place. I love a good garden tour and this one did not disappoint. The place was called Keppel Croft Gardens and it is the result of forty years of slogging done by a couple who had an amazing vision of what could be done with their property.


This is the Garden Ruin, the owner created in a couple of stages. There are many details that don't show in this picture, but it helps to create a little microclimate area and divides the space up into another outdoor "room".


They created Keppelhenge in an open area in a field. They have little signs on the base of each stone telling that the sun sets here on the winter solstice, etc. They do a summer solstice event here. They are very much into astronomy and have created a wonderful inlaid "calendar" of sorts on the ground. I forgot to take a picture of it, unfortunately.


I so admire people who can envision. They have taken four acres and created spaces and rooms and paths. People are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and there are many spots where you can have a seat and enjoy. The gardens are in a bit of a lull at the moment, as the June flowers are done blooming and some areas were a bit beaten down by a recent hard rain, but the structures themselves were enough to keep me intrigued. The owners use rock (because there's enough of it available in this area!) and concrete to help create planters and barriers and groupings.


Husband was inspired to try creating some concrete work, as he always is when we see sites like these. Unfortunately, we decided we had to cut our visit short because we were being eaten alive by mosquitos and deer flies. That's summer in Ontario. If you feel like having a deeper look into this wonderful place, I'll direct you to their website which really tells the tale of all the work they have put into this - forty years- that's dedication. There isn't even a charge to get in, but donations are accepted (which, of course, we did).

After that, we had an ice cream cone at the local, and only, corner store. No pictures. And then eventually we meandered down Lake Huron to a restaurant we hadn't tried before for supper. The rain was coming down in buckets. I wasn't impressed by the restaurant at all (do NOT flip over the burnt naan bread and expect me not to notice!), so I won't bother mentioning the name. However, husband's meal was o.k. and the day in its entirety was great, thanks to daughter getting it all organized for us.

Today will be a day of digging in the dirt and maybe a bit of reading. I'm ripping out the "strawberries gone wild" portion of my vegetable garden, which really should be called the "strawberries, twitch grass, dandelions, and bindweed" bed. It's been a tough slog, as I am digging it all by hand so I can find every fat white root and eradicate as many of those perennial weeds as possible. The next step is to, and it is NOT going to be pretty, take an old, ugly, blue carpet and lay it on top of the soil, leaving it there for the rest of the season, over winter, and into early spring of next year in order to kill off anything else I might have missed. I will weight it down with some of the many rocks that are piled up here and there on the property. What I'd really like (Mama Pea, this is because of you!), is to have raised beds there with proper crushed stone pathways in between. Still not sure what kind of wood to use. Pine will rot over time, pressure-treated will likely leach deadly chemicals into the soil to be soaked up by root vegetables, and cedar is too expensive. What to do, what to do?

Anyway, I've been up for two hours and I'm starving, so I'm signing off for now. Have a great Sunday, all!

Friday, 19 July 2019

Infiltrator

When I got up this morning and checked my phone, this was my screen saver:


This is my kitchen.

This is not my cat.

This is who I have already referred to in my blog as, "orange cat".

I'm guessing son witnessed this when he was up much later than the rest of us and put it on my phone knowing how much it would 'amuse' me.

Orange cat seems to be making use of the cat door again. Thank goodness we don't buy expensive organic cat food!

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

July 15th

I do not have an easy time treating myself. I cut back on myself, I take the broken cookie, I wait for the sale, I do without, I'll make something special for someone else, but not myself. Boo hoo for me, but yesterday (the 15th), I got treated by my own request. It was my birthday and anyone who has been married for more than 20 years knows that buying presents for your spouse is difficult, if not ridiculous. Husband just asks if there is anything I would like rather than trying to pick something out.

I usually say not to make a fuss, no there's nothing I really want / need... but this year I thought about it and said that I wanted a new hair straightener  / flat iron. Not just a new one (as the old one has now rubbed all the paint (?) coating (?) off the flat iron part and is quite frankly a piece of junk), but a better one. I went online and researched and much to my shock and horror discovered that the really good ones run into the HUNDREDS of dollars (i.e. even above $500!!). Now, I have always had what I refer to as, "unfortunate hair", with abundance of frizz, texture, and the inability to lay flat. I have used straighteners, electric round brushes, electric flat brushes, curling irons, argon oil, smoothers, tamers, balms, creams, and serums. Sometimes I just give up and let it dry naturally and end up looking a bit like a Woodstock festival attendee.

I ended up with this little beauty:


The brand is called "Chi" (and no, I'm not getting any money from the company, but hey, anytime they want to contact me and give me some money, I'm game). I got it on sale, yes it was over $100, but not by much. When I used it for the first time, I was so impressed. Seriously impressed, and realized that the crappy last two straighteners I had been using were indeed crappy. I'm pretty sure I never spent more than 39 dollars on either one of them. So, there you go. It is nice to treat oneself (because quite frankly, the purchase made by husband came out of our joint bank account, so I kind of bought it for myself, but he's the one who stepped up to the cash register to formalize it).

So, here's the old girl with husband on the porch before we all went out for supper.


We went to the same place that we went for daughter's birthday in May. Great food, fun atmosphere.

Mom and daughter.

Daughter and son.

Husband and wife.

Because it was my birthday, there was a complimentary dessert which of course I shared with the family, so we all just had a couple of bites. It was so darn good, this is the only evidence that I have that it happened.


Then back home afterwards for my other request: Dairy Queen ice cream cake!! Again, I'm always the one baking birthday cakes for other people, and be darned if I'm baking my own cake, so this year I asked for an ice cream cake.


It was so pretty! Daughter arranged for the colours, which I thought were perfect. Notice the candles? Anyone else have an assortment of number candles in the drawer with the ziplock bags and tinfoil left over from various other birthdays? Ha ha - now you know how old I am, too!