Sunday, November 27, 2011

Final Exams

It is that time of year again! No, I'm not talking about Christmas (but I will be soon!), I am talking about final exams. I have been studying like crazy these past couple weeks and will officially be done as of Tuesday. Bear with me until then, because this space will be filled with holiday cheer coming up very soon! Amongst the books, I have found time to do some things around the kitchen. Today, I am making another big batch of vegetable stock. I borrowed D's parents giant pot to make the whole process go a little smoother, and it is simmering away on the stove right now, making enough stock to last us a good few months at least.

Today's batch is a collection from throughout the summer. There are about a dozen whole tomatoes that went a bit wrinkly before we could use them, beets (tops and bottoms), onions, cabbage, a whole bag of pepper insides and various others from our preserving days. These "carcasses" will make a rich and flavourful organic broth for literally zero dollars. We pay an average of $4 for a 1 litre container of organic broth at the store. This pot will probably make 10 litres. That is a HUGE saving! If you are interested in making your own broth it really couldn't get easier than this. I have a tutorial on how to make it here. 

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend! I will be back after Tuesday.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Green Beauty Mask

Every time there is a season change, my skin goes through a period of imbalance and imperfections. I normally have very sensitive skin and have always found that it reacts to any of the regular drugstore masks. Two years ago, I discovered this mask made from ingredients that are found in the average kitchen. And, there were only two of them!

Right now my skin is dry and breaking out, probably because my face is attempting to hold onto any form of oil it can to rehydrate, thus resulting in pimples. This mask always does the trick to get my equilibrium back and jump start my skin for the coming season. It works year round as well, seemingly taking care of whatever issue my skin might be having. Here is what you will need:

Plain yogurt and oatmeal, plus a spice grinder or anything else that you can grind the oats down in. If your skin is particularly oily or you have a large amount of blemishes, add a tablespoon of honey to the mixture, which is naturally antibacterial.

All you do to make the mask is take a small handful of oats and grind them up into a powder. Then mix the powder and a couple tablespoons of yogurt (and honey, if using) until a thick paste forms.

Now spread a thick layer all over your face (nose, up to eyes, etc.), being careful not to get any actually into your eyeballs. Now let it sit and dry onto your face for 15 minutes. Next, take a nice warm facecloth (I don't normally use these, but they make the process that much more luxurious and exfoliating) and slowly wipe off the mask, rinsing the cloth as needed. Now, moisturize your face with your favourite moisturizer and relish in how soft your face now is. Keep the rest of the mask in the refrigerator and use it up to once per week. Remember that it doesn't have any preservatives in it, so it won't last more than a couple weeks in the fridge. 



Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Cold Winter's Night

It has officially become winter here. The snow has come twice and there is a constant chill in the air. Daylight Savings Time ended last weekend, so darkness takes over around 4:30 every night. I have been spending my evenings cozied up enjoying a book and some knitting along with a hot cup of tea. Life could not get better.

Others have been enjoying the extra hour of sleep as well:

How have your evenings been?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hearty Winter Vegetable Stew

This is the perfect meal for a cold winter's night. Pair it with a thick slice of bread slathered in butter and you have a stick-to-your-ribs meal without a whole lot of calories and plenty of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and vegetables!

Prior to thickening with flour

serves 2 for at least 2 meals

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 medium potato, cut into 2 cm pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
several mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup frozen peas (or any green that needs to be used up)
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups water 
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup pot barley or any other grain
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 tbsp. flour (to thicken to desired consistency)

You can also add broccoli, cubed tofu, or any other vegetable you have on hand, and you can use all stock or all water.

Saute all veggies, except peas, until golden in a large soup pot. Deglaze pot with wine, making sure to scrape all the little brown bits off the bottom of it. Add stock, water, bay leaf, and peas and bring to a boil. Add barley and simmer until it is tender, about 30-40 mins. Season to taste. Mix flour with a bit of softened butter or water, whatever you prefer, and stir into soup. Add more flour if it doesn't thicken enough for your liking. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so. 

This is a lovely quick meal that is frugal and reheats beautifully. I hope you try it, as it is a huge hit in our household! It can never hurt to have a glass of wine with it as well...



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This Past Week

This past week has been filled with Halloween fun! Here are some pictures from our festivities:

D's brother's pumpkin

D's mom's pumpkin

D's dad's pumpkin

D's pumpkin
My pumpkin

How have you been enjoying your past week?