Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coming Up for Air

Just a quick note to let you know we are alive and well! We are officially all moved in, and I definitely shed a few tears when we had to say goodbye to our old house. It had become our home over the past 3 years, and was our first home together, so saying goodbye was bittersweet.

We are in our new place, surrounded by boxes, and trying to coax the cats out of hiding as much as possible. Soon enough, this will be our home, it will just take time and some (major) organization! I promise to have a somewhat interesting post that contains pictures as soon as I can find the camera and the cords! Thank you for stopping by while I have been away, and we will talk soon!



Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

Today, I believe, is a day to remember that we only have one planet to call home, and that we better start treating it a lot nicer, or we are at risk of losing it. There is no other to replace it, and we take that for granted. Today, I will walk lightly on this Earth and treat it with respect, as I try to do every day. Every day should be Earth Day, in my opinion, but today will do for now. Today I will walk outside and enjoy the fresh air, and listen to the birds sing. Today, I will be grateful for this amazing place we get to call home.

How are you going to enjoy Earth Day?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

In the Midst of Chaos

I will probably be away from this space for the next couple weeks, as we are right in the middle of packing. My kitchen is full of boxes, and I haven't done any baking in quite a while (by my standards). Yes, I am going slightly stir crazy, but also don't really have the time to be missing it too much. I will have a brand new space to begin flexing my culinary muscles again, something I am looking forward to! So bear with me, I will be back! Until then, I hope you have a great couple weeks, and I will still make time to come read your posts, as time allows.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pumpkin Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Here is the recipe for the cookies in my last post. These are a healthy cookie that don't contain a lot of sugar, and are whole grain. They are incredibly filling, and D described them as a "homemade Clif Bar". To me, they taste like little miniature banana cakes, but not too sweet. A perfect afternoon snack!

Pumpkin Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

adapted from Oh She Glows

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. chopped walnuts
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes
scant 1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. In smaller bowl, mix together all wet ingredients, except raisins. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix well. Fold in raisins. Form large balls of dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Smoosh (yes, that is the technical term) cookies a little, as they don't spread much while baking. Bake at 375 F for 13 minutes.

These cookies are delightfully moist and tender. The raisins really added a lot of sweetness, and they are nice and plump from the soaking. I am in love with this recipe. I put my batch in the fridge after one day on the counter, to hopefully prevent mold, which seems to grow freakishly fast on moist baked goods. I am sure that you could add more spices or a different type of fruit, and they would be delicious. Next time I am going to add some nutmeg and maybe some clove to give it a more spicy note. 



Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Cold and Grey Sunday

Outside it is cold and windy, the sky bloated with rain clouds that just won't break open. So what does that in combination with having the house all to myself mean? Well, baking, reading, and hiding inside of course! I haven't left the house all day, but I have been keeping warm in the kitchen, and making the whole house smell wonderful. Here are the fruits of my labour:

Pumpkin Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
inspired by Oh She Glows

Pumpkin Pie

I was on a bit of a pumpkin kick, as you can see. D has been hinting for weeks now that he really wants pumpkin pie, but he "can't make the crust as well as I can". So, I thought I would surprise him today. He is working a ridiculously long shift today, so I am hoping to brighten his day with fresh pumpkin pie! The pumpkin I used is frozen from last summer, when we roasted a big organic one from the farmer's market and portioned it out. Yet another reason those three freezers are worth it! 

I will share my recipes for today on a later post. 

Now onto my other favourite hobby, reading! My first selections are what I consider inspirational, especially the newest addition to this collection, located on the bottom.

You cannot go wrong with a single recipe in these books! The first two are gifts from D, and the third I saw and nearly peed with excitement at Costco last week, for under $20! Drool...

And, now for my actual novel that I managed to finish today. The ending was incredibly moving, and almost brought me to tears, which is rare, but welcomed. Plus, the authour is Canadian, always a bonus. The descriptions of India were amazing, I could almost smell the spices and taste the food. I also loved how it illuminated the women of India, and described how they go about their daily lives. I would highly recommend this read:

And to finish off my nearly perfect day? Lots and lots of snuggles!

What did you do today?


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Green Alternatives: Teflon

Green Alternatives is a series that shows you the green alternatives to normally wasteful/toxic products. I use all of the featured products in my own home. I am not being paid to endorse any of the products in this series, I just really like them! In my opinion, a green alternative falls into at least 2 of these categories:
     1. They contain no toxic chemicals/fragrances/etc
2. They are reusable and/or eliminate/reduce the amount of waste normally produced with their           counterpart
     3. They contain less or no plastic
     4. They are produced by ethical companies who care about my health and the environment

Teflon is slowly becoming widely known as toxic, but is also the most commonly used coating on household pots, pans, and bakeware. The reason it is so undeniably popular is because it creates a non-stick surface on cookware, making cooking an apparent breeze. However, when Teflon is heated to high temperatures, it releases toxic fumes that will kill a bird if it is in the same room. Yes, that is correct. It will kill a bird. Well that was more than enough information for me to begin phasing Teflon coated products out of our house almost one year ago. Today I am proud to say that we no longer use any cookware that is Teflon coated. Yes, it has been a struggle to find some of the more commonly used items without this toxic coating, but I have managed to come up with a nicely stocked kitchen that functions just fine without it. 

I find it disturbing that one must search out products that do not have a non-stick coating. It is as if they have taken over the entire cookware section, suffocating everyone with their vile contents. I believe that consumers should have a choice when it comes to selecting their products, and not have to search high and low for something that won't potentially poison them. 

So what do I use as alternatives? For bakeware, I have a lovely set of aluminum muffin tins and cookie sheets. I have had no issues with the cookie sheets being "sticky", and do not grease them when I am making cookies. As far as the muffin tins go, I grease them, but I also always greased my non-stick muffin tins. I also have a glass brownie pan, glass bread pans, two glass casserole dishes that are great for crumbles, and ceramic pie plates. I have to admit that the glass bread pans are not my favourite, as the bread always sticks to the bottom, but we recently received four uncoated metal bread tins from D's family as a gift, so I am looking forward to using those. Otherwise, the glass is great. All of my pots are stainless steel. None of my cooling racks are coated, and neither are any of my kitchen utensils. I do not use a bread machine because one does not exist that isn't Teflon coated. I bake my bread by hand instead. 

PFOA is the chemical that makes up Teflon

But my all time favourite Teflon alternative? Cast iron! Oh, I am in LOVE with my cast iron frying pans. We have two, one larger, and one quite small, and they are amazing. We have had them for about a year now, and they are perfectly seasoned, and a breeze to cook with. They also come with an added bonus that they add iron to the food you cook in them. This is a great way to get more iron into your diet, which can be a bit of a challenge when you are vegetarian. I honestly do not understand why we devolved past the cast iron pan. All of our grandparents and great grandparents used them, and they worked just fine. What happened? Yes, cast iron is heavy, but you get used to that. No, you can't put it in the dishwasher, but you shouldn't be putting your Teflon pans in there either! Over time, cast iron develops a great non-toxic, natural non-stick coating on it's own. Plus, cast iron lasts for years, even decades. How many people have gotten a Teflon pan passed down from their great grandmother? 


Cast iron is also easy to clean. I simply run mine under hot water and scrub off any residue. If there is something particularly stuck to it, I simply rub some salt on it to scrub it off, and rinse. If there is something incredibly stuck to it (rarely happens), then I fill the pan with water, bring it to a boil on the stovetop for one minute, and then wipe everything out. Works like a charm! After every cleaning, I put it on the stove, warm it up, and spread a thin film of olive oil over the entire thing. It is then ready for the next use. 

Cast iron also is wonderful at retaining heat, it is oven safe (unlike Teflon), and it is sturdy! There is no way you could hurt one of these babies! The handle will never break off or come loose. And it is cheap to buy! Our large pan was less than $25, and it will last a lifetime. We will never have to buy another pan that size again. I cannot say enough about how much I love cast iron. Seriously. 

I encourage you all to begin phasing out the Teflon in your house. Don't feel like you have to throw everything out (don't throw any of it out actually, donate it!) right away. Begin by replacing one item at a time, and before you know it, your home will be Teflon free. It is a wonderful feeling. 

Will you make your home Teflon free? Have you already begun?


Saturday, April 2, 2011


So we are moving from our current rental home of almost 3 years on May 1, and I am a wee bit nervous. We currently live with D's brother, who is leaving the country for the summer, and we are moving into a place of our own (read smaller and cheaper). We live in the top floor of a house with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a nice amount of space. I love this house. The kitchen is my favorite part. It is big and has tons of storage and cupboard space. As you can probably guess, I spend a large amount of my time in the kitchen. Cooking and baking are by far my favorite things to do, and this new home will not have the kitchen space that we currently enjoy. We searched long and hard for a new home that was "perfect", and I believe that we have found it. The kitchen is by no means tiny, but it is going to be a fair downsize, which is what I am nervous about. I do not want this smaller space to inhibit my ability to do all of the things I love, so I am looking for some advice. The new place is also a rental, so we will not be able to change anything structurally, so I am hoping that someone may have some advice on maximizing the space that we will have.

Making homemade pasta

Do any of you have smaller kitchens? How do you maximize your space in your kitchen, or keep it organized and functional? I intend to continue canning, making pasta, baking bread and desserts, and in general making this new kitchen a great space to work in, and I would love your help. This new space will also be without a dishwasher, which is something that will take some getting used to. I am nervous, but also really excited at the thought of being able to start from scratch again, and decide what is going to be the best way to set up the space. And I love the idea of having the entire suite for us. We will be able to sink into this place and make it our own, which is something we have been looking forward to for a long time.

Leave a comment, a link, whatever suits your fancy. Even if you have a large kitchen, I would love to hear how you organize it and make it your own. Thank you in advance!