Thursday, August 8, 2019

Summer drinks


In some ways, it seems silly to have a recipe for lemonade - but on those hot days of summer,  it's nice to know the correct proportions.  This is a really simple recipe though:

  • Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a microwavable bowl.  Microwave until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add 1 cup lemon juice (or a little more or a little less, depending on your tastes.
  • Now add 4 cups cold water - or dilute it to taste.


This is like lemonade, only made with rhubarb.  It's really nice.

Cook together for about 15 minutes
  • 1 lb (about 4 cups) rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch slices, 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Litre (a quart) of water
When the rhubarb is soft, strain the resulting pulp through a cheesecloth bag, saving the juice.

Pour over ice to serve, using about 1 part rhubarb juice to 4 parts water.

Chokecherry drink

You use chokecherry syrup to make this.  Mix equal parts chokecherry syrup to ginger ale (for a sparkling drink).  Serve over ice.  Except that it uses up a lot of chokecherry syrup, it's a beautiful mauve colour and tastes like summer.

The Recipe

This is a throw-back to The Waltons, which we all watched when growing up.  They always had "the recipe", which you gathered was a type of moonshine.  This one is definitely non-alcoholic though.  This was always served at family gatherings.

Mix together
  • 1 can frozen lemonade
  • 1 bottle Welch's grape juice
  • 1 2L bottle of ginger ale
  • about 4-6 cups water (until it tastes right

Canning Time

One of the things I've really enjoyed doing since I moved back to Saskatchewan, is canning.  It's something that wasn't practical to do in the north - where all of our groceries were trucked in from much further away - and we didn't get gifts of crab apples from a neighbour and weren't able to pick chokecherries or Saskatoons.  I think I've canned nearly every year I've been here.

So far this year, I've done chokecherry syrup and Crab Apple Butter. (Most years I also do grape jelly as well - which allows me to give out a set of three different types of preserves for Christmas presents.)  Both of these are excellent on ice cream.  You can also have chokecherry syrup as a drink by mixing it equal parts with ginger ale.  Apple butter is traditionally a spread to eat on bread (I like it with peanut butter).  If you're making apple butter, you can use the same recipe to make apple juice and apple sauce - all of which can be canned.

Here are the recipes:  I'll add photos when I get back home and can take some (I'm writing this at the office).

Chokecherry Syrup 

Chokecherries are a type of wild cherry (extremely sour and/or bitter) that grow wild, just down the back alley from my house.  Most years we pick lots and lots and make huge amounts of syrup, but this year the City pruned them, so there aren't that many of them.  Here's what they look like when they're abundant.

Image preview
It won't let me rotate this - but you can see the chokecherries anyway.

  • Pick chokecherries, wash them, and pick out leaves and small sticks, etc.  The ripe chokecherries are a deep deep purple, almost black in colour.
  • Set them to boil on the stove, just barely covering them with water.  (This is the old way - the new way is I put them in my Instant Pot, cover them with water, and set it on steam.)  Cook for at least 20 minutes.
  • Run them through the food mill, saving all the pulp (there isn't much) and the liquid they were cooked in.
  • Carefully measure out the juice.  
    • For every 4 cups of liquid, you may (optional) add up to 1 cup of grape juice (which I have left over from last year, when I was canning Concord grape jelly).  You can't taste the difference, and it makes the chokecherry juice go further.
    • For every cup of liquid, add 3/4 cup of sugar.
    • For every 4 cups of liquid, you may (optional) add 1 tsp of almond flavouring, which intensifies the chokecherry flavour as well.
  • Boil for 15 minutes, stirring often.  
  • Pour into sterilized jars, or if you're keeping it in the freezer, you can put it in freezer bags.  
  • Either process in a canner in boiling water for 35 minutes, or store in the freezer.  As the lids cool, they should pop, letting you know you have a good seal.  If they don't, then you have to keep them in the freezer anyway.

Apple Butter 

You can make this with real apples, but crab apples make really good apple butter, and they're usually free - as a gift from a friend.

  • Pick crabs, wash them, pick them over, removing leaves, etc.  If they're large, cut them in quarters; if they're smaller, just leave them whole.
  • Either toss them in the crockpot, or into the Instant Pot, and cover them with water.  If you're cooking them in the crockpot, I usually start them in the evening and then process them in the morning.  If I'm cooking them in the Instant Pot, I steam them 20 minutes.
    • If you've cooked them in the crockpot, fish them out of the liquid.  You may can the liquid that's left behind as crab apple juice.
    • If you've cooked them in the Instant Pot, they're now mushy enough that you can't separate them from the liquid, so you're going to process them as is.  You may want to drain off some of the liquid if possible.
  • Run them through the food mill, saving all the pulp.  At this point, you have apple sauce.  You may can the apple sauce or freeze it now.  However, if you're wanting to make apple butter, you've got a few more steps.
    • Sweeten the apple sauce to taste.  (It really depends on how sour the crab apples are).  I usually use about 1/2 cup sugar per cup of apple sauce.
    • Add 1 package of pectin for every 4-6 cups of applesauce. (This is kind of optional - but I find it sets better with the added pectin.)  If you're using the powdered pectin, mix it in with your sugar and it won't clump up. 
    • Add spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves.  I usually use about 1 tsp cinnamon and about 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, allspice and ginger - as well as a 1/4 tsp of cloves for every 6 cups of applesauce.
  • Boil for 45 minutes, stirring often.  
  • Pour into sterilized jars, or if you're keeping it in the freezer, you can put it in freezer bags.  
  • Either process in a canner in boiling water for 35 minutes, or store in the freezer.  As the lids cool, they should pop, letting you know you have a good seal.  If they don't, then you have to keep them in the freezer anyway.


Monday, June 25, 2018

100% rye sourdough bread

Image may contain: dessert and food
First of all - to give credit where credit is due, I've tried the bread recipes from these websites: , , and .

They're all very similar.  You take your sourdough starter, add rye flour and salt.  Add sweetener if you feel like it.  Mix it (it's more like a batter than a dough), let it rise in the pan and bake it.  The proportions I've been using:

1 cup rye sourdough starter
3/4 cup water
3 cups rye flour
1 tsp salt

Mix together.  It's like a thick batter.  Grease your loaf pan and put it in the pan.  Put the loaf pan in a large freezer bag so it doesn't dry out.  Let it rise until it's up to the top of the loaf pan.  Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

Now, the rest of the story:
to make rye sourdough starter - use filtered or bottled water (not tap water because it has chlorine), stir in about 1 TLB of rye flour for each 1/3 cup of water.  Let it sit on the counter top.  The second day, add another TLB of rye flour.  By the third day, it should be bubbly.  Then it's ready to use.  From this point onwards, just use most of it for your bread, saving a little bit.  Add more water (now I use tap water) and flour.  It's good to go.  I keep it in the fridge and bring it out to warm up just before making my bread.  When it's working right, it smells like apples to me.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pink Princess Cake

Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup diced ginger
2 tsp baking powder
 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp salt

Wet ingredients
3 large eggs
½ cup grated zucchini
1 cup raisins
1½ cups grated beets
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup oil

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well in the centre.  Add the wet ingredients.  Stir.  Spread into greased Bundt pan.   Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until done.

Here's what it looks like before it's baked.  Unfortunately, it's not nearly as pretty a pink when it's baked, but it still tastes wonderful.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pumpkin Soup

When pumpkins are so inexpensive in the fall, I like to purchase one and make all things pumpkin.  Today we made pumpkin pies and pumpkin soup.  Both of them are dairy-free, as there's too many people (including me) that just don't handle dairy well.  For both recipes I used coconut milk instead of regular milk - and for cooking with pumpkin, I read the fat content and try to get a can of coconut milk that has a higher fat content.

Pumpkin Soup

1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
3 cups pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup diced onion
1 tsp salt
1 TLB minced garlic
1 TLB fresh minced ginger
2.5 cups vegetable stock (I used the leftover liquid from the pumpkin)

Mix everything together.  Cook in a slow cooker., or on top of the stove, I guess, until you're ready to eat.  It's really good if it's pureed with a hand blender.

Serve with pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and diced kale as a topping.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Once a math teacher....

I caught a ride to Weyburn for a funeral today.  Ruth and I were commenting that 20-30 years ago, when we had a big gathering, it was likely a wedding.  However, now most of the big gatherings we attend tend to be funerals.  This was a big gathering, and it was wonderful to be able to visit and share with so many people.

The car was full - Ruth and Walter in the front, and three of us in the back.  The middle back position had a child, I'm not going to use his name, as things posted on the internet can come back to haunt you years later, but let's say he was under eight years old.  He likes to play cribbage on my phone, so I changed the settings and showed him how to count the points for himself.  He enjoyed that; he could find the pairs and when there were three in a row, but had trouble figuring out which combinations would add up to 15.  However, that took up most of the time on the way to Weyburn (a generous hour's drive).

On the way back to Regina, I played a "game" with him.  I counted out my spare change in my wallet, and borrowed a few more coins from Ruth until I had 15 coins - all nickels and dimes.  I was determined that I would teach him that 9+6=15 and 10+5=15; as well as the commutative property of addition, so that 6+9 is the same as 9+6 and also equals 15.

Anyway, to say it took awhile would be an understatement.  Because 15 coins is a lot, and we couldn't lose any, we used my hat to hold the coins, plus a hand.  I'd have him count how many coins in my hand - and there would always be either 5, 6, 9 or 10.  Then he had to guess how many coins were left in my hat.  For example, he'd count 6 coins in my hand, and guess there were 5 coins in my hat.  So then we'd count how many coins were in my hat - and there were 9 of them.  Then, with him watching, I'd switch, and have 9 coins in my hand... how many coins are in the hat?  And he'd guess 12 or some other random number.  We did this for about 45 minutes!

Finally, I told him that if he got it right ten times in a row, he could keep the coins!  This provided a great incentive.  He'd get it right two or three times, then would do a random guess again, and we'd start over.  We arrived in Regina before he finally got the idea.  And then it was, well duh!  If there are 6 coins in your hand, there are 9 in the hat.  And if there are 9 in your hand, there has to be 6 in the hat.  And the same with 5 and 10.  And what had been an exciting game, all of a sudden had become boring!

Let's see if he can remember when I see him tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2017


Lately I've been thinking a fair bit about how my eating (and cooking) habits have changed so much from when I was growing up.  And, to be fair, I think probably everyone's have - but mine haven't changed the way the general population's has changed, at least, I don't think so.

To begin with, there's eating out.  Now, according to what I read in the news, this is a major change.  According to what I've read, people in Western Canada eat out on average 1.6 times a week, while in Atlantic Canada and Ontario is twice a week, and in Quebec it's 1.4 times.  (I'm referencing this blog for the info.)   I likely don't eat out that often, I'm maybe twice a month - but ok, that's fair.  Compare that with Americans, who according to this blog, eat out 4.2 times a week!

Now, compare this to when I was growing up.  I can actually remember every time we ate out, because it was a very big deal!  We dressed up, it was budgeted for, and it was probably at a Chinese restaurant, because we got more bang for our buck there.  We ate out maybe once every few years!  To be fair, we did have 8+ kids, so eating out wasn't a small affair, anyway.   Even if we were travelling, we'd pack a lunch or make a lunch.  I remember when McDonald's first came to Saskatoon - and that you could get a hamburger, small fries and small drink for a dollar.  (To compare, I was making 50 cents an hour babysitting around that time.)

However, it's not just eating out that's different.  The foods I cook are quite different than what I grew up eating.  I was raised in a family with British roots.  Even though I grew up in Saskatchewan, where perogies are served at every buffet, wedding and potluck these days; when I was growing up, I had never tasted them until my sister, Ruth, started dating Walter, who has Polish roots.  His mother was horrified that we didn't know what they were, and sent down two ice cream pails of home made ones.  (And they were delicious!)  Broccoli was an exotic vegetable, and I had never tasted sour cream until I went away to boarding school for high school, and it was one of the options to have on your baked potato.  I remember the first time our family tasted pizza (and we weren't all that impressed, either).

When I was a child, we had porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast most week days, pancakes on Saturdays and cold cereal on Sundays.  We always came home for lunch until we were in high school, when we brown bagged it.  Lunch was frequently homemade soup with homemade bread, however canned cream of tomato with grilled cheese sandwiches was comfort food.  Supper was usually a hamburger casserole of some kind, or meat and potatoes.  Sunday dinner, when guests were always invited, was a roast with potatoes and gravy and a lettuce salad.   Common vegetables were peas, carrots, potatoes, corn, cabbage and beans.  Bread was served at every meal, usually homemade white bread.  It was all very good, filling food, and most of it was grown in our garden, baked in our oven, or purchased locally (at the Coop).

Compare that with the way I cook now.  To start with, I'm cooking for 1-4 people, not for a family of 8-12.  That might make a difference right there.  But even so, the menu is pretty different.  Most days I do have porridge for breakfast, but it's Red River cereal, not oatmeal.  (It helps that I'm allergic to oats, though.)  Lunch is pretty much always reheated leftovers from the fridge.  (In the microwave - something we didn't have when I was growing up).  And supper is based on a salad!  My sister Ruth and I usually plan out a week's menu together, grocery shop and cook together when we can (on Saturdays if I'm not working, but we'll fit it in whenever we can).  We usually make two salads and a casserole, and have the rest of the week planned out.  We rarely make a lettuce salad, as it won't keep over a week, but make all kinds of weird and wonderful ones using vegetables and other grains that we would have never heard of when I was a child.  Things like sweet potatoes and black beans, or quinoa and currents, or beets with dill pickles and sauerkraut!  Delicious, but definitely not something we would have even considered.

In addition, because I am lactose intolerant, and many other family members can't handle milk products, I cook with Rice Dream instead of milk.  Because of many other family food sensitivities, I cook from scratch, never using things like cream of mushroom soup or onion soup mix - things that were used all the time when I was growing up.

Finally, although I can make bread, I usually buy it - but never white bread.  I prefer pumpernickel, or at the very least light rye or 100% whole wheat.  I occasionally make homemade buns, but generally make them at least 50% whole wheat.  I keep my bread in the freezer, because I never serve it with a meal - if I have bread, it is part of the meal (as in sandwiches).

I don't know if the way I eat now is healthier than the way I ate growing up, but it certainly is different.