Friday, June 30, 2017

Goat Cheese and Breaded Shrimp Salad; Making Chocolate Ice Cream

We've pretty much given up the idea of sitting on our couch lately! We accept that they are pet couches now! Here are Jack and Charlie waiting for Alex to wake up. I woke up way too early again today, a gal can't live on 6 hours sleep - at least this gal can't! I'm so tired, I might need a nap before bedtime. ;)

Chocolate to the rescue!!! :) I try to use my time wisely in the mornings because it's just way too easy to find an inch on the pet couches and watch my British comedies...which is fun, but it makes me lazy first thing in the morning. I decided to start the Chocolate Fudge Swirl Ice Cream!!! I'll post the recipe if it works out!

I could dive right into these bowls and you can bet the spoons are licked clean lol...The left bowl is the soon-to-be ice cream. The right bowl is the fudge sauce. These go into the fridge all day and tonight I'll be making the ice cream. This is the third ice cream I'm making, I still have to post about the Country Peach Ice Cream too. 

Tomorrow is Canada Day. It's also Canada's 150th birthday! :) I made these little flags to decorate our dessert for tomorrow. I have a nice day of appetizers planned, a red and white dessert and a red cocktail!! :)  I love Canada, I'm so grateful to be living in this beautiful country! :)

Last night's dinner was AMAZING, if I do say so myself! :) I had a bunch of thises and thats in the fridge, so I put together a Goat Cheese and Breaded Shrimp Salad with Toasted Baguette. It was very easy to make and quick too! The baguette is to spread the warm goat cheese on; and those shrimp were so tender and delicious! I wanted to use my own lettuce, but we have a house guest coming and I want to save it for those Cobb salads I'm planning for that dinner. I added some of the garden peas to the little salad too and ME, the PEA-HATER, loved them! They tasted more like green beans to me, I'm pretty thrilled!

Wishing all of you Canadians out there a very Happy Canada Day!  And SUNSHINE.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sipping and Nibbling

This is not what we're sipping and nibbling on! But the pets are. :) We had a wee little scare. Our "solid as a rock" cat Leo refused to eat yesterday. The dogs get into everything, they eat grass, dirt, sticks...Jack even fancies Kleenex - so when they lose their appetite, I never worry too much unless it lasts longer than a day. But the cats are indoors and there is very little they can snack on in the house, since it's very catified and dogified! Leo must have gotten into my vase of wildflowers, which I thought was up high enough...but we found some petals this morning with little cat teeth marks in them. All I could think of was that I poisoned our cat because I didn't keep these flowers far enough away - anxiety kept me sick all day yesterday. I spoke with our new vet (she's wonderful and even speaks to me in English!) and she gave us a lot of advice. She said wait 24 hours, then see if he'll eat his favourite food, and he did! Of course, if you give one pet some tuna, you must give all of them tuna!!

"My ball!!" Here's Leo back to normal...with Jack looking on while chewing his ear. My fear is based on ignorance and worry. I can figure out what to do when the dogs need home care, but I'm clueless about cats. Thankfully all turned out well! The wildflowers will either stay on the porch or up on the highest inaccessible shelf in the house!!!

So on to the nibblies....

Aaah, the joy of pizza. This has become one of our favourites: apricot jam, prosciutto and Blue cheese. We had leftover pita bread to use up so we made some little pizzas for dinner.

Another Rain and Alex favourite: Mozzarella, Old Cheddar and olives. 

For dessert/after dinner sipping, we made strawberry milkshakes - using the homemade ice cream!! Alex splashed a bit of brandy in each shake and the flavours were unbelievable! We had these on the porch, trying hard to ignore the whining dogs on the other side of the door!

Since I'm playing the waiting game with the rainy weather these days, I've been in the kitchen a lot more. This morning for brunch I made Huevos Rancheros with Refried Beans. Ooh yum!

This is my version without the yolks. You may note the itty bitty little amount of cilantro on each dish? My cilantro is NOT growing much this season. I'm sure it's the lack of hot days. At least we're getting a little bit though! Mexican food isn't Mexican food without cilantro (in my opinion!)!

Our sweet little house guest Pavlov will be leaving us in a few days, sigh. This makes me sad. He is the sweetest little dog and he's been clinging to me, even to the point where Jack walks between him and me lol...Our friend is coming some time over our long Canada Day weekend for a few days to visit and then Pavlov will be gone, we're really going to miss him! Sniff! :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Strawberry Ice Cream! Cats & Dogs, More Quiche, Can You Identify My Flower???

I started to put my Ice Cream recipe book to good use yesterday! I made my first Strawberry Ice Cream. Strawberries are local and freshly picked for the next few weeks, so I'm loading up because they are so sweet! The imported/frozen variety I'm stuck with all winter does not compare so I may invest a lot of money to freeze these sweet ones for the winter.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of strawberries all mashed and chopped up. Cream, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla are the only other ingredients.

I bought myself a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker about ten years ago on a whim. I used it a few times to make sorbet but this is my first real attempt at ice cream and the results were so amazing! I'm sure there are ways to make ice cream without the Ice Cream Maker, but I think Google would know more about that than I would!

The ice cream was super delicious! It was ready in time for dessert last night. The only thing is that the berries were so frozen that it actually made our teeth sore to chew them! Next time I'll use the juice and discard the solid part of the berry for something else. I'll add some fresh strawberries at the end.

I was so pleased by the results that I already started the Country Peach Ice Cream recipe! This one is a little different. You make a custard first, then let it sit in the fridge 24 hours and put it all together. But I'll blog about that one next time! The peaches come from the States so unfortunately for export, they pick them before they're really ripe so they'll last longer during shipping. This makes the fruit not very sweet to begin with; and with no way to really ripen them properly, so I don't know that this one will turn out with a nice peachy flavour. I wish I could get more local peaches. The Ontario ones come in July if I remember right, so I'll just be patient!

Now all I need is another expensive gadget:

These waffle cone makers are neat, that's for sure! But I'm not quite willing to spend $60 right now for a "toy" that can only do one thing!!! Maybe "Santa" will bring this to me because HE LOVES waffle cones so much! 

Cats and Dogs...The three big dogs are always out in the yard, but the cats and Jack stay inside most of the time. I don't know what is up with Jack, he just doesn't like to be outside, even in nice weather! The little ones stay inside.

Oscar and Leo on my painting table

Dana and Jack sharing the quickly disappearing sun beam

Mmm...mmm.mmm...Asparagus and Old Cheddar Quiche...need I say more?

I got spoiled with another bouquet of wildflowers yesterday! :) We've identified all but one flower. So I need help from my Blogger friends please.

Look at these beauties! This is a good example as to why I adore Nature. I have never seen such a lovely design before. Alex found these growing under one of the cedar trees. One patch of them. I did so many searches for various "colour" flowers with "x" petals and dots, spots....just cannot identify them. You can always click on the pictures for a bigger view. Any ideas?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Peas! Tomato and Bread Salad with Chicken Bites

I was so focused on pruning and caging my tomato jungle the other day that I completely missed the fact that I have peas! I pulled the two containers of garden peas out of tomato land to cage them better and only noticed after that there were pods (top right of the plant)...I don't even know if they are ready to be picked yet, I have to look into that. I planted these indoors at the end of April, so I guess the timing is right! Another first time crop for me! :) Alex loves these, I'm not too big on them, but he'll eat them right out of the pod, I wonder how many I'll get?

Alex always picks me wildflowers. He knows it makes me giggly happy, I find it very romantic. Here is a sampling of the flowers we have growing all over the property. The flowers I planted at the beginning of the month are just now starting to push out of the earth so it's nice that someone took the time previously to plant all of these beautifully colourful flowers. It's still raining and thundering out tonight, which is okay because it's the weekend and as my friends know, I love it when it rains on the weekend because it keeps the loud people away! :) 

The fireworks drove our husky Marlene into panic last night...I do worry about her heart rate, it's nerve-racking to see her so physically shaken. I'm ordering the Thundershirt for her tonight, the reviews are good, some of my Blogger friends have had good results...and if I buy through Amazon, I can return it if it's not effective. Win win. I can't bear to see her suffer and thunderstorm season has just begun...I know what panic feels like personally and the thought of anyone or any pet that I love dearly going through that just breaks my heart. To our surprise, Oscar the rescue cat showed us last night that he is also terrified of fireworks! He ran under the bed and wouldn't come out until after least thunder doesn't bother him so it's only once a year that he has to go through do we comfort these poor little creatures?

Anyway, we can only do our best right? :)

Last night I made my version of a Tomato and Bread Salad with Chicken Bites. It is very similar to the recipe in my Salad cookbook, but I changed and added stuff. It was really delicious and despite the fried chicken bites and bacon, it was a light meal!

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warm so I'm hoping to spend most of the day on my cozy porch either reading or painting a watercolour...which I haven't done in ages! Hope everyone has a good week ahead! :)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Garden Fun, Peach Oven Pancake and Quiet Nights

Not too long ago, Alex and I had the habit of grazing all day on snacks and having a big dinner. We cut that out recently though in favour of having brunch and dinner without snacking. We haven't been able to figure out what we enjoy snacking on that isn't processed so we're pretty much giving that up altogether. This means I am getting lots of experience with my Breakfast Comforts cookbook! This morning I made a Peach and Almond Oven Pancake. It was SO DELICIOUS!!! The pancake itself is cooked in the oven and the peaches are cooked in a pan with brown sugar and butter. The pancake reminds me a bit of Yorkshire pudding, it's quite eggy and it was a new experience for us. I think the next one I'll make will be with pecans and strawberries. It looks small but it's quite big, 4 hardy slices, so we have some for tomorrow's brunch too.

I had some fun in my garden today. As you can see, "tomato land" was turning into a jungle. With two pots of garden peas, there were 12 containers in there. I took them out to prune, cage and separate, so they should do a bit better now.

Now they are in two separate areas. I put the Romas and peas next to the pumpkin patch, the regular tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are still in tomato land. I also put my lemon tree in tomato land, it's doing quite well with 4 big lemons that will hopefully turn yellow this season!

Speaking of the pumpkin patch...this is my experiment so I won't be upset if nothing happens. Having said that, I'm happy to report that the plants in the foreground are already flowering! Those are the ones I transplanted. The seeds I planted directly into the hills aren't doing so well. Only one of them grew (the little plant in the background). Funny huh? Everywhere I read and every video I watched said that pumpkins do not like being transplanted, yet they are thriving!

My "garbage bin" potatoes are thriving too. I added more earth to keep them growing well and plentiful. I'll add as much as I can as they grow, but the bins are nearly full at this point!

Despite the hot/cold weather this month, everything else is doing well. My second pot of lettuce is nearly ready to be picked and I planted 4 more pots. We realize that the Buttercrunch lettuce is our favourite crop, so I want to make sure we'll always have a good supply from now on. Every week I'll plant a new pot. I'm finding it very difficult making myself buy grocery store lettuce at this point!

My flowers are taking forever to grow though, they definitely need more sunny days like today. Our house guest Pavlov (running from Charlie) is having a ball. It's like he's on vacation up north! Why does Jack always look so sad in my photos? The other dogs are running around having fun and he's always focused on me and what I'm doing...aww, he's my little mama's boy lol...I can't even express how much these dogs mean to us!

Alex threw the ball into the little kiddie doggie pool and Jack sunk his face under to get it. I counted and he kept his face under there a good ten seconds! He's a water dog by ancestry, part pointer, part hound! :) At least that's what we think from looking at photos. He hates to get wet though, go figure.

These are my green beans, yellow beans and cukes...doing well also. I took advantage of the sunny morning to do my gardening and plant more herbs and lettuce. Now Alex and I are hibernating indoors because today is Quebec's national holiday and it's getting loud out there with tourists and bad french cover bands. There will be fireworks tonight so I'm preparing dog rescue remedy and some passionflower for Marlene. No offence to any francophones out there, but in all honesty, English people are the minority here and that's how we are typically treated. Montreal is more cultural but once you leave the cities, you're not too welcome if you speak English because it's associated with being Canadian - most Quebecers resent anything Canadian. Anyway...suffice to say we ARE NOT into the french thing so we prefer to just hang out indoors and watch movies this weekend.

But weeknights are still nice and quiet around here! Last night we treated ourselves to a cheese plate with some port and wine on the veranda. It was dark by the time we got around to dinner, and Alex had lit all the candles. It was so nice!

Here's a photo with the flash on. We found some really stinky Brie that is so delicious! And that heart-shaped cheese is a cheddar from England, so yummy! Alex and I try to be as frugal as possible since our dream is to purchase land and a home in a few years. But we also value the importance of enjoying each day. We don't go out much, we don't spend lots of money on clothes or vacations or "toys", so we treat ourselves to good food. It's important to keep your eye on the future, but to also enjoy each day as well, because we just never know what tomorrow will bring do we? :)

I hope everyone is having a great summer thus far, enjoying the garden and not working too hard!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice! My Porch Is Now Complete! :))

Necessity is the mother of invention isn't it? :) Alex found a way to fix the love seat so it fits on the porch! He had to take one of the arm rests off. Problem was, it was holding up the bottom so he built a wood box to sit under the side against the wall so that I'd be safe up there. The back wasn't the same size as the front...and of course, our porch floor is NOT level, so it took some work. But he did it! It's sturdy and oh so comfy!

And I can fit up there with TWO dogs!!! Alex has to wait his turn. :) Actually I can move the pillows around and use it as a day bed facing the yard with Jack at my feet while the big dogs are in the yard. We were so glad he found a solution without having to alter the love seat. We want to be able to use it with both arm rests in the future.

Of course, we had to celebrate the completion of the cozy porch with a cocktail! :) We had our own favourite Old Fashioned's on the new love seat with all the dogs around us. We'd love to let the cats out, but we know they'd scratch the screen to bits. The secret ingredient in these Old Fashioned's is "Rain's Simple Syrup". You might notice no link to's a secret and I'll take it to the grave!!! ;)

As a thank you, I made Alex one of his favourite brunches, Ham and Swiss Cheese Quiche. What a treat for both of us! :) 

Happy Summer Solstice!!!  For me, this day is called Midsummer...midway between Spring planting and Fall harvest. It's also a day I'm celebrating the bounty of the first harvest of the season. I'm so grateful for my garden and the lovely food it's already given to me! :) Today's holiday is a fire festival celebrating the Sun, so if the rain stops, a camp fire will be on the agenda...if not, I'll be lighting candles and we'll be sitting out on the porch to enjoy the evening and Nature all around us. :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Minor Injury

Thumbs Up! :) It's amazing how useful this little digit is...last week, I suffered a dog-related sprain to the tip of my thumb joint - imagine a bend that just shouldn't bend that way! Shudder! The Arnica gel is invaluable. Even though I'll be out of commission for 2-6 weeks, I'm learning how to make do without my left thumb - which surprisingly I USE A LOT!!! As my blogger friend Sam I Am says, onward and upwards! She's having some aches and pains too but her attitude is always so positive.

Last night I made my Chicken Saltimbocca with boiled potatoes. Everything is taking me a little longer with my gimpy thumb, but I'm giving myself a break. It's too easy to get frustrated! We discovered an amazing taste last night. The Saltimbocca calls for a white wine reduction to drizzle on top. We didn't reduce it completely but poured it over the taters...taste sensation! And this is the last of my first crop of Buttercrunch lettuce! My second pot is nearly ready to pick and the next sunny day I need to plant some more.

I got this in the mail yesterday. I have an ice cream maker that basically collects dust at the moment. Alex ordered it for me last week, comfort sweet food on the way! :) We love to buy used books online, we spend maybe up to $15 a month each surprising each other with a book. It's an inexpensive way to treat each other and most of the time, the books are like new.

On Sunday we found my cozy love seat for the porch! :) After assembling it we realized it was 2 inches too wide for the space, always an issue in this rental. I measured the width of the porch, but everything is built so crooked here that the end where I wanted to put this love seat is not the same measurement as anywhere else on the porch, grrr. Anyway, Alex is going to come up with a solution today to make it fit. We may have to take off one of the arms, but he has a good idea. I can't wait to lounge on it! :)

Our days are filled with enjoying our pets and our canine guest; taking care of the yard, cooking, eating, napping in the hammock and watching movies! With the occasional work time for Alex :) It's rainy but muggy. The black flies are nearly gone for the season (yay!) but the mosquitoes are out now. They're a bit easier to handle! I'll have a garden update by the weekend! :)