Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Trifle Cake

The other day was a co-worker's birthday so I decided to bring a cake into work for her. It's chocolate cake soaked in raspberry juice/syrup, then the first layer of cake was covered in canned raspberries and whipped cream. The top layer is another soaked cake topped with whipped cream, milk chocolate drizzle and raspberries.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Much Loved Meatloaf

Tonight's dinner is a tasty meatloaf, made from the same recipe my mother and paternal grandmother have used for as long as I can remember. It is awesome for freezer cooking because it's really not much work to put together and freeze into casserole dishes, the trick is remembering to thaw it out early enough in the day. I freeze mine raw because I find that they dry out if baked, frozen, and baked/reheated again. It takes about 1 and a 1/2 hours to bake at 350*F once it's thawed. It's the perfect meal for one of those chilly, rainy, August days. Yes, that's right, chilly and raining today, in August, brrrr.

Much Loved Meatloaf:

Family Pack of Lean or Extra Lean Ground Beef
4 Eggs
2 Cups of Oats
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 Cup of Ketchup
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients together and press into freezer/oven safe casserole dishes. I like to use disposable tin casserole dishes since this is quite a messy one to clean up. (Note, big messy clean-up tonight, Corningware...)

1 1/2 Cups of Ketchup
1 1/2 Cups of Brown or Golden sugar

Mix together and spread over meatloaves.

Bake at 350F* for 1 and a 1/2 to 2 hours.

Linked to Coupon Cooking's "Tasty Traditions"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cream of Yam, Bacon and Leek Soup

Tonight we reaped the benefits of freezer cooking! Hubby and I got a case of the (really) lazies last night and got take-out but tonight it was time to bite the bullet and defrost something. I often forget about all the goodies we have tucked away in our freezers...

The only photos I have of the soup in question are from last freezer cooking day, here it is cooling off a bit in a casserole dish before I bagged it to freeze.

And here we are all ready to freeze!

So the recipe is a little, um, wing it!


2 Cups of chopped Leeks (I used to use onions, so try whichever your preference is for)
1 package of Bacon, cut up
4-6 large Yams, peeled and cubed
4 Liters of Milk
1 Cup of Butter
Approximately 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
Garlic, Salt and Pepper to taste, and a pinch of Nutmeg if desired.
Water, to thin out consistency if soup is thicker than desired.

In a large skillet or wok, fry bacon until partially cooked, add leeks and fry until bacon is crispy and leeks are limp and bright green. Set aside.
In a large pot make a roux, melting the butter on low heat and adding flour until it forms a soft ball. (I find that a wooden spoon works best.) Whisk in milk gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add yams, bacon and leek mixture, stir and bring to a boil. Add spices and cook on medium heat until yams reach desired consistency.

Yeilds: Approximately 8 Liters of soup.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just Jammin'

Jam day went well, I think. I came out with ten 250ml jars of Raspberry-Strawberry-Blueberry jam. I ended up using a long-boil recipe with no pectin, just the berries and sugar. I also canned six 250ml jars of Raspberries in light syrup. They are lovely on vanilla ice cream in the middle of winter. Here are some pics from the kitchen:

Here is the fruit pureƩ boiling in the big pot. I am really glad I used the big pot because the jam really started to spit when it got boiling, there was jam everywhere. It had to be boiled for 20+ minutes and stirred almost constantly to prevent scorching.

Then I put the jam in the jars, centered the lids with the magnetic lid lifter thingy and put the bands on finger-tight.

Into the canner we go!

Raspberries in light syrup awaiting their turn in the canner.

The finished products!

All told, making the jam and canning it took me about 3 hours. Hopefully next time I can do it quicker :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

First time canning, let's hope I don't get in a jam!

Hehe, in a jam...Anyways... Tomorrow I am going to make jam for the first time. Now, I've been present for the making of many, many, jars of fantastic jams and jellies made by various family members but did I pay attention to how they really did it? No. So tomorrow will be a brand new adventure! Thankfully I have the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving to keep me on track. And I already called my mom for pointers.

I will also be doing some more freezer cooking to supplement the meals we still have from the last big cooking weekend. After all that work it makes me a little nervous to see the stockpile of frozen dishes starting to dwindle. Tonight I stopped at the Wholesale Club to buy beef for tomorrow's cooking but to my dismay it was all marked best before tomorrow! Much to my delight, however, some of the packages were marked 30% off! So I bought two and pre-cooked the beef tonight just to be on the safe side and it will be less work tomorrow. I also slammed together 2 meatloaves which are now in the freezer, ready to go.

Earlier this week I got a super deal on bottom round steaks at Thrifty's. They were $5.99/lb., so two large steaks in a package were about $5.00 each, with a $2.00 off department coupon for short dating. Since they were good for another 4 days I bought 4 packages, cut each steak in two and repackaged them in Ziploc freezer bags with marinade. All this really means is that we will have 4 BBQ steak dinners for about $0.75 per serving. Sweet deal!

Overall I am really enjoying the rewards of freezer cooking, we've had more time in the evenings to go for walks and spend time with friends and family, I spend less time in the kitchen prepping, cooking and cleaning after work, and so far our grocery budget is hanging in there. I think we will spend less on groceries this way in the long run but it has been a large investment to start. Here's hoping it pays off financially in the same way it's been paying off in the time department!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Freezer Cooking Pictures

Oh the never-ending dishes...
Cream of Yam, Bacon, and Leek and Cream of Mushroom and Leek
Veggie Burger Soup

Veggies for the pasta sauce
Pasta Sauce
10 lbs. of mushrooms

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Freezer Cooking, still...

So far the freezer cooking has been going ok. I have broken most of the major rules though, my biggest mistake, going to no less than 3 grocery stores yesterday morning before I'd even started cooking. In my defense, the Wholesale Club was out of lean ground beef on Thursday night and I couldn't find a good deal until Friday morning (Save-On-Foods, $1.89/lb.) So of course I had to buy about 20lbs.

So far I have made:

3 x Chili
3 x Pasta Sauce
4 x Veggie Burger Soup
3 x Shepherd's Pie (with Yams and Mozza instead of Potatoes and Cheddar)
3 x Garlic Bread (Store-bought French Bread, just added garlic butter)
10 lbs of Mushrooms, Washed/Sliced/Frozen ($1.56/lb. Plus a $1.00 Coupon for buying the whole flat)
2 x Marinating Steaks

One of the biggest challenges for us is that we are feeding usually 5 adults dinner and trying to pack 4 adult-sized lunches for work the next day. No kid-sized portions here yet.

Still on the agenda for tonight: Maccaroni and Cheddar Casserole with Broccoli, Cream of Yam and Bacon Soup, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Biscuits, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freezer Cooking: Round One

Tomorrow is my day off. I'll be attempting my first freezer cooking, or batch cooking, day. I am planning to make a couple of meatloaves, some meatballs, lots of pasta sauces (white and red), chili, soups, biscuits, garlic bread and maybe some muffins and cookies. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Once upon this May, I baked a cake

Well, I baked this cake for my 25th birthday and never got around to posting any pics, so here we go! From start to finish :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Today is my baby brother's prom and dry grad. That doesn't make me feel old at all, nope, not one bit. Can't wait to see him in his fancy duds.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In The Words of Satan by The Arrows

In The Words of Satan by The Arrows
A song I stumbled across today, and it struck me. It is an introduction to the Father of Lies, in song form. Now I have purchased a copy of it and bought their second album on iTunes. It's something different for sure, two girls from Durban, now on a world tour with their first full album. There are other versions of the video with different images and lyrics.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A good weekend

Good things are happening this weekend! I went thrift shopping this morning and found two dresses that fit and like five shirts. I found this really cute boutique shop that unfortunately is closing tomorrow, but I got two shirts there for 70% off.
Then my mom and brother drove down to Victoria and brought me an extra sewing machine that they had at their house. Mom stayed to visit for awhile and Andrew will be staying with us for a few days. I have no idea what we are going to do yet, maybe some walking downtown? Movies? What do you do with a 17 year old boy? I'm sure we'll find some fun stuff to do.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

This weekend I:

-ordered my first pair of glasses for driving and distances
-drove to Qualicum and back in one day
-celebrated my grampa's 83rd birthday with most of my family
-removed my name from the United Church membership roll
-saw a car run a red light at a highway intersection, and not get hit
-walked my first 5 km race

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What happened this weekend, through my eyes anyway...

I can't begin to find the words to express my disappointment, and mine is nothing compared to the heartbreak of many others.
I took the day off work Friday and Paul and I drove upisland on Thursday night. We attended the presbytery meetings at Knox United Church on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. The main objective of these meetings was to decide the fate of Moorecroft Camp.
A little bit of history: My family has been involved with the camp for 6 decades, as long as the United Church has had stewardship of it. My grandparents and other family members frequently attended work-bees to maintain the camp, helped with fund-raising efforts and even volunteered as camp counselors etc. for many years. I don't even know the full extent of what contributions have been made to the camp over the years. My brothers and I attended summer camps there most summers as we were growing up and when I was in Girl Guides we had our camps there as well. Two of my aunts were married there, one in Kennedy Hall and one at Vesper Point. The place and its ministry has always had a special place in our family. I regret not living upisland for any portion of my adult life because I wish now that I could have been more involved.
I don't know what this place means to other families but some stories I have heard are those of former campers who met at Moorecroft, had significant involvement with the camp, and are now married with children of their own who could have gone to Moorecroft. Unfortunately that will not likely happen.
The presbyters, for numerous reasons, voted to sell the camp.
Their preference was for the camp to be sold, with a Conservation Covenant in place, and for the buyer to be someone like the RDN who would make it into a park and allow the Moorecroft Camp Society to lease the facilities back for camping programs in the summers. We'll see how that goes but I have a few predictions...
An air of distrust between the presbyters and conference seemed to permeate the meetings, snide comments were handed down from on high, and subtle threats were inferred. The distrust was not, in my opinion, unfounded. For example, the packet of information provided to the presbyters clearly stated that a Conservation Covenant is very rarely attached to a property at any time other than at the transfer of title. When the NALT representatives were present on Saturday morning a presbyter asked them if this was the standard procedure. Without pausing for a moment the representative explained that covenants are almost always placed on a piece of property well before sale. NALT only monitors one covenant placed on a property at the time of sale. That covenant was the desire of both the owner and the buyer. This coupled with language in conference documents like, "in as much as possible" and "all things being equal" leads me to believe that if they found a buyer who did not want the covenant then they would not put it on at the time of the sale as desired by presbytery.
As far as I could tell the presbyters were being lead to believe that selling was the only responsible option. The option not to sell the camp came with many strings attached and consequences that were repeatedly reiterated by conference representatives. The most daunting of them, that Moorecroft would be the sole financial responsibility of the Nanaimo-Comox presbytery and the Moorecroft Camp Society. No money would be coming to Moorecroft from BC Conference. The second part of this ultimatum was that the camp would have to meet the standards set out by Conference for it to be allowed to operate. Basically, you can't have our money but you must follow our rules. This accompanied by numerous graphs plotting the demise of the entire United Church scared a lot of people into taking the safe option, the money.
So once again the church chooses the almighty dollar over the almighty God. As my dad put it, "If the streets of heaven are paved with gold, why would you trade something like Moorecroft for pavement?" I can't help but think that this could have been avoided in so many ways but as one speaker said, the church has grown bored with Moorecroft and they'd rather throw it away than have to deal with it any more.
At this time it looks like camping will go ahead for the summer of 2010, here is the link to the camp's website:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking a Toll

Life is starting to take a toll.
I am used to having a solid plan, and Paul not having a job yet is really throwing me off. It'd almost be better if he was still in school, that I am used to. At least he is getting some hours here and there at Pharmasave with me, which does help but it is not in his field. There just doesn't seem to be much out there in his field, but what else can we do? His education is what we have worked for the entire time we have been married and I don't want it to go to waste.
I don't know how much longer I can do this though, I am just so tired. There must be something better.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Better Household Management

Lately I have been reading a lot about natural womanhood and managing a household.
I have to say, it's all a bit intimidating. I would love to do it, but I barely have the energy to keep our place presentable and prepare one meal every two days on our current schedule, let alone all of this natural, all-organic, meal planning, list making hyper-organization.
I am thinking of implementing some kind of cleaning schedule so that the chores that don't get done until we're expecting company, get done a lot more often. Maybe I'll try to do some more meal planning too. I know that in the long run these things save precious time and money but I just find myself so frazzled and starved for free time. When I get home from work most nights I am exhausted, all I want to do is sit. I wonder where they get all their energy?
Today I am doing the laundry, washing it here and drying it at the laundromat, and then I'll do the grocery shopping while the laundry's drying. I guess that could count as time efficiency. I'm also going to see if I can find some coupons to use in the future, today I'm going to try not to buy anything not on the list though. I need to accept that my full time job is outside the home and there's only so much that allows me to do. I know that it can't be done in a day but I am taking baby steps toward better household management.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I see the sun

Our internet was down for about 2 and a half days last week. It doesn't seem like long but it really gave me some perspective on exactly how much of my time is spent on the internet and what a huge hole it seems to leave when it is gone. Now it is back, (thank you captain obvious, right?) and the cable has been turned off. Another huge time-suck eliminated, temporarily. Soon it will be back, we are switching providers, thus all the service interruptions. It's funny how over those few days I thought of so many things to blog about but now this is all I've got, a rundown on our internet and cable situation.
In other news, I got a new phone. Oh wait, that is not other news, it's pretty much the same! Anywho, it's a Blackberry and it eats battery life like crazy. I asked the guys about usability, reception, durability, all the features, except for battery life. So, word to the wise, look into it if you are thinking about switching to Blackberry. It's so bad that I think it might be a defect so I'll probably take it in and ask them.
Paul and I went for a couple short hikes this weekend at Witty's Lagoon. Saturday we had barely found the place when it started to get dark but when we went back Sunday, to the other end of the park, it was gloriously sunny. I haven't been so happy to feel sunshine on my face in months. It had been literally months since I've been out in the sun. The park is amazing too, a waterfall that pours down a rock face into a lagoon, muddy rainforest trails, mossy old man's beard covered trees along a path leading to a perfect white sand beach. It is a busy place too, we saw at least 5o dogs, with their owners of course, big dogs and small dogs, all muddy and wet and wagging their tails, obviously enjoying the best. walk. ever.
My passport application is nearly complete. All I need to do is get my photo taken and have Paul sign the backs of them and then off to the mailbox. Fingers crossed everyone, this application might actually be the one that I finish and mail before I lose it and/or my documentation. I am so excited. It is definitely a step in the right direction.
That's about all the energy and details this girl can muster for now. Incredibly busy day at work today, probably more of the same coming my way tomorrow. So tired.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Memory Lane

So yesterday I went to Vancouver for a trip down memory lane. It's true what they say, you can't go home again. Not that I ever really considered Vancouver my home but it sure has changed in the 6 years I've been gone, or at least it didn't feel the same. I went to my old neighbourhood, walked by the old house, went to my old college, and daydreamed about the things that could have been. That's when I realized how thankful I am for the way things are now.
I estimate that I walked about 15km yesterday, on very little sleep. I couldn't fall asleep on Friday night because I was so excited so I didn't fall asleep until after one and I got up at 5:30 to catch the 7:00am ferry. I proved to myself that a trip to Vancouver can be done in a day but I was so tired on the boat on the way home that I fell asleep in a chair and am pretty sure I was snoring because when I woke up people were giving me that knowing smile. I can only hope that a: I didn't talk in my sleep and that b: those people were kind enough not to record it with their cell phones.
Meeting up with Allanda was definitely the highlight of the day. I can't believe how long it had been. We were going to have lunch at Gyoza King but when we got there they had closed so we went for Korean food instead, pretty good stuff. We did a lot of catching up and reminiscing but the time went too fast and before I knew it I was back on the train. I ended up catching an express bus to the ferry, after taking a detour through the RiverRock Casino in search of a bathroom. Man, that place is swanky. Ferry food was, well, ferry food and then I was off to sleep. Happy to be home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Adrift and overwhelmed

Oh so many things... Life for us right now is, um, disorganized? Or maybe not organized at all? We are like a ship adrift at sea with no set direction, not going anywhere fast, we'll just arrive at any port that will have us it seems. I'm sure we couldn't decide what to do right now even if we did discuss it seriously, which we don't. I am still supporting us, working full-time, Paul is waiting to hear back about some prospective jobs. This is the turning point, if we can decide which way to turn that is. There are 5 bedroom houses for sale in Port Alberni for less than a 1 bedroom condo sells for in our current neighbourhood. If only there were work up there for both of us, it'd be great to be close to family, especially if we decide to start our own family.
In other news, I found my birth certificate and our marriage certificate, after having re-ordered copies of both. This means that now I can apply for my passport. Ideally, I want to take a short trip to the UK this summer, possibly Ireland and Scotland too. It is completely dependent on whether or not Paul is working and whether or not we have paid off some important debts first. It has been a long unfulfilled dream of mine to travel to Europe but I know I wouldn't be able to enjoy it without a clear conscience so the debts must be paid first. Hopefully our tax refund will take a big chunk out of that.
Saw Avatar on Sunday afternoon with Paul. We used one of our passes so it was only $6.00 to upgrade for the 3-D. It was epic.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Update from the year 2010

Well, here I am in the year 2010. Resolutions this year are few and necessary, to get more exercise, to eat better, and to be more financially stable. We are borrowing a Wii console from our friends and I have been "working out" about 30 minutes every day or two using the Wii Fit game. It is a lot of fun and I love competing to be on the scoreboard but it is real work, I am actually breaking a sweat every time I use the darn thing. This is good.
Another new development, my husband is 25 today. I know that age is relatively meaningless but 25 seems like a big number. He has finished school and the job hunt officially begins tomorrow. I think it makes me feel older to see him turn 25 and finish school and start his career. Career is such an adult word.
I am in love with a condo. I know it is terrible, and materialistic but I can't help it. I haven't even been to look at it, we are not ready to buy a home yet but still, it is increasingly difficult not to email the realtor to at least get some details. (It has been on the market for several months, and I kinda wonder why, doesn't bode well for resale potential at any rate...) It is very bright, has 2 bedrooms, is painted in colours I like, and is about half a kilometer away from my job. How perfect can it be? It has a really cute little kitchen and is under $200,000. UG, and there is where reality kicks in. Is that not a huge sum of money? Is anything worth that? I mean, to have a place of our own with our own kitchen and laundry and everything would be great but...that is one fifth of a million dollars is it not? Oh well, I really have to stop thinking about it because even though we have co-signers lined up for a mortgage we have no down payment. I think I should just try to forget about it until after we have our finances in order and if it's still on the market then maybe we'll look.
On Friday I used my slow cooker for the first time to make pot roast. Unfortunately we bought the wrong type of roast for slow cooking so it was incredibly dry. We attempted to revive it by cutting it up to make stew but it was no good. So today, armed with fresh meat, I made a big beef stew for hubband's birthday dinner. It was pretty good if I do say so myself. Tuesday I'll make a proper pot roast with the right cut of meat this time.
What a random post. I'm going to bed to read "The Shack". Hopefully it won't keep me turning pages until 3:ooam like last night...