Saturday, July 31, 2010

Look Who's Knitting Sox

We have had lots of fun things scheduled for Ike for the holidays this year.  After all you are only young once....aren't you??  After out 2 week road trip down the west coast of the US....we are now back in Eastern Canada (Northern Ontario actually) visiting with my parents for a (hopefully) relaxing 2 weeks.  Ike has already been to the park to feed the ducks and has been chopping at the bit to get out to 'the cottage' (we call them camps here in Northern Ontario but I find most people elsewhere don't and have no idea what I'm talking cottage it is....I feel so's a camp:)  There are big plans for lots of fishing, some kayaking and hopefully some sailing......and of course the best part of being "at camp"...the food.  I cannot wait to try out the new pizza oven and hopefully some more bannock as well....YEAH:)  The pizza dough is finished and waiting in the fridge and as soon as Uncle Patrick gets home from work....we are on our way.  It is a 2 1/2 hour drive north of here and it is always interesting to see what new decorative work mum will have done up there.....Now it appears that the painting of the base of the pizza oven is in order...there were paint chips and plenty of discussion over what colour worked best.  I have a feeling I'll be doing some painting:) 
I've packed along a little project ot keep me out of trouble while there...I'm knitting my first pair of socks.I have had these on my to do list for quite some time now.  I have knit lots of these knit and felt socks which are a very good project to use as an introduction to sock knitting. (since the felting process is so forgiving)   But I did want to try my hand at socks where you can actually see the stitiches.  While in the US I picked up some inexpensive sock yarn.  It was on sale 1/2 price so I picked up two balls and it's a good thing as when I more carefully read the instructions....I'm going to need both. Also a good thing I brought both along as I am using the free pattern on the back of the lable and I accidentally left one copy behind on the plane.  OOOPS...As it turns out I could just print a new one off from here....which turned out to be handy as there was a small typo on the lable pattern anyway.  I am hoping that I will actually finish these.  I am simply amazed that people used to make these for their family.....the stitches are so small!  In any event....I turned the heel so I think I'm past the most difficult part now and I'll be bringing along my knitting answer book just in case.  If I finish these.....I may even frog the first pair I started and try them again.....after I find a fifth needle!  Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mums Rib Rub Mmmmm Good!

Ike and I are now on another little vaction.  This time we are back east with family.  The weather has been hot and muggy and very condusive to outdoor grilling.  So what's on the menu for today is simple grilled pork chops.  Mum makes this rub and stores the extra in a container until the next time.  She has used it on chicken and pork with equal success.  If you are looking for something easy, fast, and tasty....give this a try.

Mums Rib Rub
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup paprika

Combine all in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Add 1/3 cup to a bag large enough to shake up your piece of meat. Save the remaining rub for another use.  Coat meat with rub by shaking up one piece of meat at a time in the bag, then remove piece and drizzle with olive oil. Discard remaining rub in the shake up bag.  Grill over preheated meduim heat grill (400-450F) with the lid closed for one minute per side.  If you have a thermometer, cook to 163F. (Mum recommmends the thermapen digital instant read thermometer)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Billy Miner Bomb

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.-
I was pretty interested to get going on the Daring Bakers Challenge this month as our summer traveling schedule was going to be making things a little difficult to get everything done.  This one had quite a few steps that required a lot of cooling times in between, so it was not a challenge that you could easily knock off in one day.  After a lot of thought, I decided that the flavour I wanted to theme this months challenge was going to be Billy Miner Pie.  Billy Miner Pie is a 'to die for' dessert served at the Keg Steak house chain here in Canada.  It is a mocha ice cream cake with a chocolate cookie crumb crust dressed in hot fudge sauce and carmel.......and I think with some sliced almonds (if I recall correctly).  In order to keep this flavour theme I found a recipe for mocha ice cream from Allrecipes that I felt would work well for me and altered it only very slightly.  I have never thought to make or even purchased a swiss roll before, so I was quite interested to see how this part of the challenge would play out for me.  I could not bring myself to make two separate batches of ice cream as my ice cream maker makes a gallon of ice cream at a time and we would never eat it quickly enough.  I did not feel confident in my abilities to make the ice cream by hand.  As it turns out....with a 2 L bowl as a mold, I will still have tons of ice cream left over which we can make our way through I'm sure.  I wanted very much to make this dessert to serve for friends visiting from NZ but figured out quite quickly that it would be too much of a rush to accomplish this and dinner with the time constraints involved.  Since I am away...I just had time to snatch a quick photo of the unmolded dessert.   DH will be enjoying the completed challenge with caramel sauce and extra hot fudge sauce.......with the neighbours (I hope).
Over all I loved that this challenge gave me the opportunity to make a swiss roll.  It turned out absolutely light and beautiful and seems like something nice to serve for dessert with a light lunch.  I will have to investigate other flavour options and make some dates for tea now:)  I came very close to making an ice cream cake for Ike's birthday party back in June....and I feel happy now that I didn't since this challenge has given me that opportunity.  If you'd like to give one of these a is what I did....  When you have time, do have a look over here to see the beautiful results of some other Daring Bakers as well!
The Swiss rolls-
Preparation time- 10 minutes
Baking time- 10-12 minutes
Rolling and cooling time- at least 30 minutes
Filling-5-8 minutes
Filling and rolling- 5-10 minutes
6 medium sized eggs (or 5 large)
1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans
For the filling-
2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar
  1. Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
  4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
  5. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
  6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.
  7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
  8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
  9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.
  10. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.
The Filling
  1. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
  2. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
  3. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
  4. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.
The Hot fudge sauce- I made this just after adding the layer of vanilla ice cream to the cake.
Preparation time-2 minutes
Cooking time-2 minutes
1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar
3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch
1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water
1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter
1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
  2. Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .
Mocha Ice Cream Recipe
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup flour
3 Tbsp instant coffee granules
dash of salt
3 cups milk
4 eggs beaten
4 cups whipping cream
2 cups milk
3 Tbsp vanilla extract
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan gradually adding milk and eggs while stirring until smooth.  Cook over medium heat to 160 F or until thickened. (about 15 minutes)  Set custard to cool in fridge.  Once the custard is cold add remaining ingredients and pour into your ice cream maker or freezer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wishing You a Safe Trip Home

The other night we had company over for dinner that we have not seen in 2 1/2 years.  To their credit they looked well preserved for their absence.....only the gain in the height of their children gave them away.  Such special company gave rise to a lot of meal planning.   What to make that would complement the lovely summer weather we've been having that would not entirely stress me out.  Plus....let's face it....this lady can really we won't be having take out.  A lot of meals that come to mind require the long term use of the oven or stove which would make my house unbearably hot. A recent cookbook purchase solved my dilemma.  I soon decided to make a recipe for sticky chicken that a friend had shared with me quite a few years ago while visiting in Texas and along with it I made two recipes from the new Whitewater Cooks at Home cookbook.  The noodle salad and a salad with green goddess dressing were both tempting choices.  I would add some parboiled grated carrot to the noodle salad next time for a bit more colour, and I cannot say enough about the goodness of the green goddess dressing!  The greens can be altered if you do not care for some the more bitter greens (next time I would pick my own assortment).  I have not bought a cookbook in quite a while and I was reluctant to do so as I have quite a few already.  Well after flipping through this one in the store I decided that I was really tempted by is just a beautiful book!  And then.....I decided that I would buy it for my friend that was coming to dinner that night.......she would certainly appreciate its wondrousness (since she has mad cooking skills) and I loved the fact that it's Canadian and the recipes are typical of what you'd find here in a modern trendy restaurant.  A nice little souvenir for her to take back to NZ.  Well I cannot say enough about this book.....I know already I've done that........but I have 2 more copies already ordered plus 1 copy of their first cookbook Whitewater Cooks!  Dessert was not going to stress me out either and I went with my old standby of Chocolate Sauce and Cake served with a scoop of ice cream.  Most of the meal was prepared during the morning and even the chicken was grilled just after noon....dressed in its sauce and reheated in the oven along with the baking dessert just before dinner.  So there you have for a few recipes. For the Sticky Chicken recipe, another friend has it already typed out......and you can find it here.....go and have a's quick, yummy and kid friendly too if you cut down on the hot chilies:)
Green Goddess Salad
2 heads of butter lettuce
1 head of radicchio
The Dressing
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp minced anchovy or anchovy paste
1Tbsp lime juice
2Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp tarragon, fresh chopped or 1 tsp dried
2 T chives fresh chopped
1/4 cup parsley, fresh chopped
1/2  cup spinach leaves, packed
Wash and spin greens of your choice and store them in a plastic bag lined with paper towel in the fridge for at least 1 hour....longer is fine too.  Might as well do it early and free up some time later.  Put all dressing ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth.  Store dressing in the fridge until ready to assemble the salad.  Do not assemble the salad until ready to serve as it will wilt.  Once the salad is tossed with the dressing, sprinkle with a bit of chopped parsley and Salt and Pepper.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

1 pkg (500g or 1 lb) angel hair pasta cooked, drained and cooled
2 Tbsp ginger, fresh minced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 Tbsp miso paste
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce, Japanese
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 T sweet chili sauce
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup toasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
I decided to use rice vermicelli as the recipe did not specify wheat or rice based noodles.  I might like to try a tiny bit thicker noodle next time and will break up the noodle before putting it in the pot to cook to prevent noodle tangles.  My noodle package had no instructions, but I cooked them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes until the noodles were al dente.  Then immediately rinsed and set them in ice cold water to thoroughly chill them while I made the dressing.  For the dressing add all ingredient right down to the lime juice and mix with a whisk.  Add vegetable oil in a steady steam while whisking and store in a jar in the fridge until needed.  When both noodles and dressing are ready mix them and store in fridge (Mine fit in a large zip lok bag where it sat in my fridge until dinner time)  Transfer to serving bowl and toss with cilantro and peanuts and serve.

Now we are on our way back east to visit with family for a few weeks and our friends continue their trip and eventual return to NZ........So long good friends.....we are saddened to see you go, but look forward to seeing you all again soon:) 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The End of a Journey

Our road trip did eventually end.  It was two weeks on the road traveling light and stopping where the mood struck us.  DH loves to travel this way......and we enjoy it too although it cannot replace the relaxing nature of an all inclusive at a beach......still need to throw in one of those trips every now and again.  
Our final four days took us up through central Oregon and Washington.  We were all very surprised by the terrain as we had anticipated encountering more densely forested areas of lush vegetation.  Instead we found near desert conditions with tumble weeds blown across the highways by massively strong winds.  We are guessing the area is prone to these gale force winds as the countryside was also peppered with windmills as far as the eye could see.  There were lovely spots of green oasis winding along with the river which tended to be where the camping areas were.  As we neared the Canadian border, there were lots of areas of irrigation devoted to fruit production....but not nearly as intense as across the border.  Our stay at Rufus Lake Park near Chief Joseph Dam warned us of rattle snakes in the campgrounds and while we did get a little visit from some wild was from a Yellow Bellied Marmot and thankfully not a rattle snake:)  
We we told by other more seasoned campers that the rattle snakes liked to keep warm in the mounds of lava rock sprinkled throughout the campground.  Good to know since Ike gravitated towards these lava rock mounds almost immediately.  We took an unanticipated tour of the Chief Joseph Dam the next day and were treated to a surprisingly informative tour by the Army Corps of Engineers.  My husband and I are both engineers (geeks) so maybe that explains our interest.....but still I think worth the stop for any passers by.  We did not realize that the Chief Joseph Dam is second only to the Grand Coulee Dam in power generated, and produces enough power to supply the entire metropolitan area of Seattle.  We were fortunate that one of the generators was pulled apart for maintenance to expose how elegantly simple the whole process is.  The scope of the project is immense though and would have been amazing to see under construction.  We were lucky that we showed up just a few minutes before noon which is a scheduled tour time.....I believe their tour times run every two hours.  We spent a good hour with our guide and there were even some interpretive displays for Ike to play with.  With the recommendation of our tour guide we then headed into Brewster for an amazingly delicious Mexican lunch at Camperos......another unexpected surprise.  
We were served a cabbage salsa with chips which I am going to have to try to was surprisingly good and we even asked for a second plate.  The portions were huge and lunch was about $7 per person.....Ike could only eat half of his plate.  We also stopped into the little market across the street which carried mostly Mexican products.  We bought some sweet buns (much like these) from their bakery (super yum), some hot sauce we had liked from a previous trip to Mexico, and several bottles of tropical flavoured pops.  I could have looked longer in there......but we did have to get on the road.  A bit more driving and we were back in Canada safe and sound. The next few days were spent in the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon area.  These areas are the hot spots for summer vacationing in British Columbia, and it was warm.  
The beaches were plenty along the lake and we spent a morning at one along with a bit of time in a community rose garden.  We thoroughly enjoyed Kelowna's indoor water park operated by the YMCA.  It had an inexpensive admission of $25.50 for a family up to 5 people and had swimming areas, wave pool, river run (with and without waves), a toddler play zone, two huge water slides, hot tubs and a surf zone.  We easily spent 3-4 hours there and it was perfect for the days that were just too hot outside. While Penticton and Kelowna are both summer towns containing all the cutesy tourist crap you'd expect of a summer tourism town....we found Vernon to be much more true to its original state and really enjoyed the little town.
Well our trip is done and soon, I'm sure, DH will be planning out the schedule for next years road trip.....maybe Vancouver Island??  Now we are knee deep in laundry and are preparing for our next trip back east:)  What will I miss most about this's difficult to say....we saw so many interesting things.....and I didn't come close to mentioning them all.......But I know I will be missing the RT44 Sonic Strawberry Limeade.......if you get the chance to try it........and ask for only 1/2 of the ice:)  Oh....and go during happy hour to get one for half price!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dunes and Caves and Craters..... Oh MY!

After Mt St Helens we carried on to see the Oregon Dunes.  DH and I had seen then before but never bothered to take the tour.  Well this time we did take the group tour and it was well worth the time.  It was somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour, and was really interesting and fun.  I was thoroughly surprised at the steepness of the dunes that this  monsterously large 'dune bus' would tackle......and it wasn't that expensive either. 

After a day at the dunes beach we were off to our final southern destination just past Crescent City California to see the 'Trees of Mystery'.  They are not as big as they can get....but still pretty darned big!  The gondola ride to the top of the mountain was new and would be a nice place to have a light picnic lunch....very pretty!  The parking lot features a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox which actually took up quite a bit of our time.  They have an employee stationed somewhere invisible to the tourists that speaks to passers by from a speaker mounted inside the giant Paul.  The head of the statue and its hand both move making your interaction a bit more animated......very fun for the kids!  The tour took us about one hour and was worth the stop.
Then I insisted that we take Ike to see the Oregon Caves.  It is a little off the beaten path as you take a winding highway with plenty of switch backs from cave junction to your final destination.  
They do not recommend taking trailers on this bit of road and I can see why.  The VW camper van, while tres chic, is not a very speedy girl......the trip on this road takes longer than its miles might suggest:)  The end result is well worth the time as the typical cave tour is about 90 minutes of very pretty formations and is not too uncomfortable.  There are more adventurous routes as well through the caves if you don't mind crawling on your belly.  If we had more time we would have planned to spend the night at the almost 100 year old hotel on site.  It has pretty much maintained in its original decor and is perfectly lovely.  I would imagine that quite a bit of advanced planning is required for such a stay and their rates were not expensive starting at $135 per night.  We stopped there to have lunch at their small coffee shop and had an excellent lunch complete with the best milk shake ever.
The Oregon Caves were a hard act to follow....the Crater Lake National Park gave its best with another spectacular vintage style hotel (although it has been renovated with slightly more opulence than the original).  As far as crater lake is involved......there is a bit less to do there to spend your least for the average traveler.  There is a boat ride (for 2 hours I think) that you can take on crater lake.....but it requires a bit of a strenuous hike to take part.  You must walk down a trail which drops 1000 ft to get to the starting point at the lake and after all is done with the must walk back up it.  That walking back up part really made us think twice and we ended up not taking part this trip.  There is a ring road circling the crater with many spots to stop for picture taking and picnicing.  The interpretive center is quite informative and the view is spectacular.  The water is remarkably clear.  I believe that they stated that an 8 inch marked disc can been seen through the water to a depth of 144ft.  You can easily view the topography of the bottom through the lake and some of the colouring is beautiful.  Due to this extreme clarity, the water is a brilliant blue which is difficult to capture in photos.....and the journey continues......till next time:)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Then We Went to See a Volcano

Did I mention we went to see Mt. St Helens????  (I'm sort of out of order here as this day trip was right before seeing the beach with the shipwreck at Fort Stevens State Park.)  After having watched many documentaries on volcanoes and seeing one in particular on Mt St Helens....Ike was pretty keen on seeing it for himself.  We took a little detour to fit it in.  The blast area involved is really quite large and the state has put a lot of money into developing the area as a national monument.  There were ample places to pull over and picnic although the day proved to be a little over cast which limited our sight seeing  somewhat.  Once you arrive at the interpretive center (The Johnston Ridge Observatory)...there is a small gift shop and several interpretive displays with an $8 per adult fee to enter.  Your fee does allow you a few days of admittance, so you can come back if the day is too foggy...which happens sometimes. 
Unfortunately for us we did not have the luxury of hanging around for another day for the fog to lift and so we did our best to imagine its awesomeness.  If you encounter fog and do not have the time to come back to view Mt St Helens.......the $8 is a bit of a waste of money.  On the drive back down the mountain we stopped in at The Forest Learning Center since we spent less time admiring the volcano that we had planned on, and found it to be a very nicely done display....(and it was free which we appreciated).......well worth a visit. 
A little more drive brought us to Fort Stevens State park which was interesting with its battery still open for viewing.  The camp sites were quite private due to the thick brush growing there.  There was also a great view of the ocean and we saw lots of wildlife including some very tame deer and a friendly raccoon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Delicious Pineapple Slice

More years ago that I care to family received a visit from Auntie Mary.  Auntie Mary was a real character and also a very good cook.  Even while on her visit (which would have only been a few days) she managed to make two recipes that I can recall.  One of them was this pineapple slice which was made in a bakery in her home town.  Either she wrangled the recipe from the bakery or she duplicated it as best she could....I'm not sure which.  What ever it's source, I love this slice and make it about 6 times each year.  I always have crushed pineapple on hand, and everything else is pretty much things you would have in your pantry anyway.  And I'm not sure about where you live.....but here....canned pineapple is cheap and consequently so is this slice.  It is a little more work than dumping everything in and mixing it up....but only a little bit more.  Also the recipe could be made with any fruit filling you like.  All that needs to be done it to make it into sort of a pie filling first.  If you do try another flavour....please let me know about it as I've always said I would and haven't got around to it yet.

Auntie Mary's Frosted Pineapple Slice

1/2 cup sugar
28 oz crushed pineapple, (not drained)
3 tbsp corn starch
1 egg lightly beaten

2/3 cup milk (or 1/4 cup sour cream topped up to 2/3 cup with water) warmed
1 tsp sugar
2 pkg yeast
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup warm water
4 cups sifted flour
1 cup butter or shortening (if using shortening add 1/4 tsp salt)
Stir pineapple on medium heat adding 1/4- 1/2 cup sugar (to your sweetness level) and cornstarch to thicken. Once thickened remove from heat and set aside to cool.  In 1/4 cup warm water let 2 pkgs of yeast and 1 tsp sugar rise with the lightly beaten egg.  Scald the 2/3 cup milk and cool to just warm.  Pour cooled sour cream or milk  into yeast, sugar and egg mixture and add 1 tsp vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl cut 4 cups sifted flour with 1 cup butter or shortening.  Add sour cream (milk) mixture to flour working as lightly as possible.
Divide dough in half.  Roll dough on floured dish cloth to fit small greased cookie sheet.  Flour under dough as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the cloth.  Fold the dough in half to make it easier to transfer over to the cookie sheet. The dough needs to climb up the sides of the cookie sheet just like a bottom crust on a pie. Prick dough and spread cooled filling to cover bottom crust. Roll the second half of the dough for the top crust. Transfer to top of the filling and seal the edges.  Snip surface as for pie and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar is desired.  Bake at 375F 35 -40 minutes until just golden.  Remove to a rack to cool and drizzle with icing sugar icing.  For Icing sugar icing take 1/2 cup icing sugar and add water by the tsp full mixing until the icing is thin enough to pour.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daring Chicken with Pecan Cream Sauce

What an interesting choice for this months Daring Cooks Challenge!  The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
Since I have pecans most mornings with my oatmeal.......I have a large bag of of pecans in my fridge.  I decided to try and make this challenge without purchasing any odd ingredients that I might never use up.  I opted to make chicken with pecan cream sauce.  I must admit that I got confused a bit about the directions and started looking to find a recipe using nut butter on my own and ended up with combination of the recipe provided and one that I found on the internet that had quite similar this is my take on the challenge.  This recipe worked out perfectly for me as I had 3 egg yolks sitting in the fridge from the previous pavlova challenge:)  Waste not want not....and all that!
I was surprised at how quickly the toasted pecans were processed into butter!  I used my Bamix food grinder attachment and it was perfect for the small 3/4 cup volume of nuts that I was dealing with.  I was also surprised at how runny the nut butter was.  You can tell from the photo above that it is runny even with no liquids added....that is just processed nuts.  The sauce recipe that I chose to make called for what I thought was too much sugar and so I cut back from the 1/3 cup called for to 1/4 cup and would in future reduce that to 2 tbsp.  The sauce ended up being somewhere between nutella and peanut sate in flavour.  DH quite liked the recipe while my son liked it without the sauce.
To see the results of other Daring Cooks....look here.
Apple Filled Chicken with Pecan Cream Sauce.
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup mild cheese, I used Yorkshire Wensleydale with cranberry because that's what I had
1 Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely diced onion, sauted
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp white sugar
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Pecan Butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly oil a baking pan.
2. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a large pocket in each chicken breast. (Hint: Cutting close to the smooth side of the breast ensures no holes in the chicken.) Place 1/3 of the cheese inside each chicken, followed by 1/3 of the apple slices, and a small amount  onion, to suit your tastes. Pull the chicken back together, brush with a small amount of melted butter, and coat with breadcrumbs. Place stuffed breasts on baking pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until no longer pink, and juices run clear.(about 165F)
4. While the chicken bakes, you may start your sauce. In a double boiler over lightly simmering water, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Beat until the yolk lightens and froth forms. Slowly add the wine, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans and vanilla. The sauce looks nice served under the chicken with a small amount drizzled over it.

Friday, July 9, 2010


We are now on day 6 of our vacation and have had 3 beach visits in the past few days.  We are all really enjoying the coast as it is always a big change over what we see at home.  But dealing with all the salt and sand is somewhat more difficult while travelling in the hippie wagon.....and I don't really have a good system down yet.  I had forgotten....sand is gross......and it's everywhere!
Our first beach stop in Washington at Fort Ebey had lots of little crabs for Ike to play with and all kinds of neat things washed up on the beach.  My least favourite of these things would have to the be massive (8ft long) seaweed type plant that DH decided he needed to play Indiana Jones with.  I cannot believe that he actually picked it looked gross.  
You can see the 'whip' he was playing with in the photo above winding around the rock at the top .  Sadly for me there is actually some skill involved in aiming such a device as my DH can attest to.  I was none too impressed when he flicked it and it wrapped around my head.  Good thing I was wearing sun glasses.  Hmm maybe his aim is not that bad after all??
Another beach stop at Fort Stevens had a very neat shipwreck to investigate.  I believe it is over 100 years old and attracted the attention of a lot of children and was a magnet for photography.  It was huge!  Quite a nice beach and it was a little difficult to drag Ike away.
The latest beach stop was at Canon Beach.  Such a cute little was Seaside to the north.  Both really great little places to spend the day.  It had great beach sand and was a fantastic walk with miles of coastline to see.  We'll be spending another day just a little further down the beach.  And of course we had to stop in to the candy store to get some salt water taffy.  I think I've eatten enough for quite a while.  Next stop after the beach....a Tillamook Cheese tour:)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crafting on the Road

I don't know about you....but can find it hard to relax and enjoy a holiday when your head is still swimming with all the things you need to do.  This trip started as all of our trips do.  That being flying out of the house an hour behind schedule with a few less crucial jobs left undone.
To increase my sense of accomplishment while on the road I try to bring a little portable project along with me so I can feel like I've done something.  These little crocheted pot holders fit the bill for this trip and they don't take up too much room either.I doo have a pair of socks that needed to be frogged and restarted.....but in the usual panic of leaving....this was the best I could do.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On the Road

We are on the road on a little road trip now down the Washington, Oregon, coastline and down to Eureka California.  Ike....still ripe with gold fever has brought along his gold pan for the ride.  He was rather insistent that Jim has cost him his fortune as he is pretty sure he had a nice nugget in his pan and "dad lost it".  There was quite a bit of complaining about that.  So far we have done a little camping......seen a bit of wild life and wild flowers.....shopped a little (not nearly enough......but after all, two boys are not conducive to the shop).   I am loving Jo Anns here.....what a great store:) and managed to spend a half hour in one without too much complaint.
We managed to be down here during the July 4th holiday and the fire works sales here are like nothing we  see at home.  We did suppport the fire works industry fairly well and purchased our own little stash which we have set off here and there along the drive.  This particular fireworks stand was the largest we encountered.  Ike did his best to purchase something from each of the sellers.  The pricing was very variable from seller to seller.  For example a set of 3 blue balls ( a ground display ball with a short fuse making a 5 ft diameter flower of sparks) ranged in price from $2 to $12 depending on the seller....or how foolish we looked....not sure which??  We also took in an impressinve 45 minute show in Chehalis Washington from the Home Depot parking lot and Ike had a good time setting off some of his own.

And that is totaly the kind of fireworks I'd be looking for...wouldn't you??  Quite honestly...if it wasn't insane....I just wouldn't be interested.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Converted = Parboiled Rice....Food for Thought

Well you learn something new everyday......and today was no exception.  Last night I was working on the up coming Cooks Challenge and wanted to prepare my Aunt Lucille's delicious Rice Pilaf for a side dish.....but when I pulled out the box of Uncle Ben's Converted Rice which the recipe calls was near empty.  So I ended up making something else.  Later, I started to wonder if the bag of parboiled rice I had in the cupboard would do as a fact might they be the same thing???.  I had purchased it to make a coconut milk chicken curry recipe I acquired from an African cooking course I went to in the Spring and it has been sitting in the cupboard along side Uncle Ben.  Well it turns out I could have used the parboiled rice....because converted rice= parboiled rice.  Who would have know???  Obviously not me!  And with instruction from the African cooking course, I went looking for this 'parboiled rice' in the dollar store where they had purchased theirs from.  So I'm glad to say that instead of spending over $4 on a box of Uncle Ben' I know where to find it for $1.50.  I also learned that parboiled or converted rice is more nutritious than white rice.....if I got it right....the parboiling process is done with the rice husk still on and some of the nutrients from the husk are absorbed into the rice.  So....I really did learn something new today:)

According to the Cook's Thesaurus:
converted rice = parboiled rice  Notes:   This is a good compromise between nutritious brown rice and tender, fast-cooking white rice.  Converted rice is steamed before it's husked, a process that causes the grains to absorb many of the nutrients from the husk.  When cooked, the grains are more nutritious, firmer, and less clingy than white rice grains.   Uncle Ben's is a well-known brand.  Substitutes:  brown rice (more nutritious, takes longer to cook) OR white rice (less nutritious, stickier, takes less time to cook)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gold Fever at Barkerville

On a recent visit from my MIL, we jumped in the car and headed for Barkerville.  That's a historic gold rush town just in case you've never heard of it.  It is a bit of a drive.....about 2 1/2 hours south of Prince George and we had not been there since we brought other visitors there about 6 years ago.  It seemed to me that quite a few new buildings had been finished, adding to the displays.  I enjoyed the trip much more than I had thought I might, and Ike did as well.  Now it seems that he may have caught gold fever:)  Since Ike's birthday is just around the corner...gramma picked up a gold panning pan for Ike.  He's now chomping on the bit to try it out find his fortune.
It is certainly easy to see how people catch it that's for sure.  With lots of static displays, costumed actors, bake shops, an old mercantile, it's own china town with shops and a restaurant there is plenty to fill the day......not the least of which is to try your hand at panning for gold:)