Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Tonia came to my house one night, bearing gifts: the beautiful cupcakes from Craves.  

tasted a few of them.  

They came exquisitely wrapped, a beautiful variety in each package, and so tasty.  

Later that week I was talking to my friend, Marilyn Gilson, on the telephone and she said that she had made some cupcakes for a wedding, since the bride suggest those instead of a wedding cake.
I can see why there is a charm to the cupcakes.  I asked Marilyn about the cupcakes and here is what she told me, sending me both a preamble and some nice recipes.
"The start of my search for better cupcakes came with reading an article in Meridian magazine by Dennis Weaver – he said you have to add substance to cake mix cupcakes, mix-ins, flavor, nuts, chipits etc. but nothing specific.  Finding the site on-line telling that the best of the best cupcake ‘stores’ use cake mixes as the base adding sour cream, extra ingredients, oil etc – made me think a cake mix cupcake could taste good.  I also had had the experience of being asked to make cupcakes for Darlene Proctor’s granddaughter – for her wedding reception, that were a complete failure until I phoned the manufacturer and found out we have a high altitude and must add extra flour to the mix. And the amount of extra flour changes for each kind of cake mix.  I will say those were labour intensive cupcakes requiring many extra steps and I did have to buy a whole new set of ingredients because the first effort went into the “garbage”. The final product was extremely good though. I have no idea where that recipe is.  But here are some others."
Creamy German Chocolate Cupcakes, my favorite, made with a Duncan Hines Swiss Chocolate Cake Mix.  I liked it best with the filling inside the cupcake, others liked it best with the filling added on the top of the batter giving a chewy top.  Problem with that was the filling did not distribute evenly on top of the cupcake during the baking.  Filling in the middle – oh yes how do I make this come out evenly. . . .
1.      Filling: beat together till light and creamy: 8 oz, Cream Cheese, 2/3’ds cup of sugar, 1 large egg, 1 tsp. vanilla.  Add and stir in ½ cup mini chocolate chips, ½ cup flaked sweetened coconut. Set aside.
2.      To the cake mix add: 2 Tbsp. Flour, 1 small instant chocolate pudding, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3.      Add 1 ¼ cups water (you could use half sour cream) ½ cup of veggie oil, 4 eggs slightly beaten 1 tsp. vanilla . Mix according to directions on cake mix box.
4.      Filling in the middle—drop app 1 Tbsp. batter into each of 24 paper lined muffin cups, add a spoonful of filling and top evenly with remaining batter.
5.      Bake at 350 degrees app 25 minutes.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes: made with Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake Mix
1.      To the cake mix add: 1/3 cup flour and 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder – mix well
2.      Add 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup vegetable oil, 4 eggs lightly beaten, 2 tsp vanilla, ½ cup liquid – water or milk.  Mix as directed on the box
3.      Place a spoonful of batter into each of 24 paper lined muffin cups.  Place a mint patty into each cup. Continue to divide the batter evenly among the 24 cups (app 2/3rds full)
4.      Bake at 350 degrees 18-22 minutes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes:  an easy recipe from my friend Linet Meeks
1.      Mix together, 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp each B. Powder, B. Soda,  ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp. Cinnamon, ¼ tsp. nutmeg if desired.
2.      Add 4 eggs beaten lightly with 1 cup veggie oil, 3 cups finely grated/shredded carrots mix with hand mixer on low 2-3 minutes,  Can add chopped nut if desired
3.      Makes 24 cupcakes or 9 x 13 cake.  Bake at 325 degrees, cake: 50 – 60 min, cupcakes: 20-22 min?
I used Cream Cheese icing on all of these, butter icing would be good..  Have fun!
Marilyn Gilson

PS  From Arta -- I am going to post these recipes over on the Larch Haven Foodblog as well.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Pork served on a Thursday evening ...

... the most delicious pounded and marinated pork in the world ...

This is the meal that was served to Rebecca last night at Janet and Glen's house.  I guess the food you see is a good reason to learn to throw pots.

Glen says he will put up the recipe if Rebecca will put up the picture.

Now she has done her part.  When looking at the photo she took, she noted that the vegetables were as delicious as the meat.

Must have all tasted good!


Monday, 14 July 2014

Thimbleberry Wine

Can someone please make this?  (I am talking to you Glen)


Of course, who on earth has time to pick 4-8 pounds of thimbleberries?

Friday, 20 June 2014

Lentils Curried with Rhubarb and Potatoes

I found the recipe in English with ingredient amounts. 

Thank to:  http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/stuff

1 cup dry "orange" lentils
1 very large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 Tablespoon oil
1 cup rhubarb, diced
2 Tablespoons liquid sweetener
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger root, grated
1 teaspoon hot red chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded coconut


Cover lentils with water in a deep pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add raw sweet potato slices. Simmer until soft (about an hour). Remove from heat, drain, and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a skillet. Once hot, add rhubarb. Reduce heat and cook until tender. Stir in sweetener and seasonings. Mix with drained cooked lentils and potatoes that have been mashed together with a fork. Pour into a oven-proof dish and bake at 400 degrees until piping hot (about 20 minutes). Garnish with coconut. Serve with chutney and a big bowl of brown rice.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

More Rhubarb Recipes -- Curried Lentils

Another recipe from my neighbour -- she says this is so, so good.  Again....  English to follow French.

Faites cuire la rhubarbe, comme en Inde, dans un curry de lentilles et de patates douces. Mettez des lentilles roses dans de l’eau et amenez à ébullition. Ajoutez des tranches de patates douces et mijotez environ 1 h. Retirez du feu, pilez et réservez. Faites revenir des morceaux de rhubarbe dans de l’huile et cuire jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient tendres. Ajoutez un peu de miel, du gingembre râpé, du cari et, si désiré, du piment fort. Mélangez avec la préparation aux lentilles et mettez dans un four réglé à 240 °C (465 °F) pendant une vingtaine de minutes. Ajoutez de la noix de coco râpée et servez sur du riz brun avec un chutney.

Bring red lentils to boil in some water.  Add pieces of sweet potato and stir for about an hour.  Remove from stove, drain, and put aside.  Saute pieces of rhubarb in some oil unil just tender.  Add some honey, grated ginger, curry and hot peppers if desired.  Mix together with the cooked lentils and bake in the over at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Add some shredded coconut and serve on brown rice with chutney.

Rhubarb Salsa

This morning I got an e-mail from Arta saying Moiya had dropped by with some rhubarb. 

My neighbour has rhubarb and knows I love it.  She has told me many times I am welcome to share her plants.  Often I do -- usually just to make a little rhubarb sauce to put on my ice cream.

She made some salsa a couple of weeks ago and brought some over to share.  It was delicious.  Here is the recipe.  (English to follow the French -- as we say in government).

Salsa. Faites cuire des morceaux de rhubarbe jusqu’à tendreté avec des oignons et de l’ail émincés, des raisins secs, un peu de miel, du vinaigre de vin rouge et du piment jalapeno. Passez au mélangeur avec des feuilles de coriandre fraîche. Servez avec des croustilles de maïs chauffées au four.

Salsa.  Saute pieces of rhubarb just until tender with minced onions and garlic, raisins, a little honey, some red wine vinegar and some pickled jalapenos. Mix with fresh coriander and serve with warm corn chips.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Moussaka with low-fat white sauce

This is so, so, so, so good.  It takes a long time to make.  I split it between two small casserole dishes since I don't have kids who will eat this.  Leo and I ate one dish over two nights.  The other dish is in my freezer.  I keep dreaming about it.
  • Nonstick olive oil spray
  • 2 12-ounce eggplants, peeled, each cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 pound lean ground beef sirloin or ground round
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup plain dry white breadcrumbs
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten to blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • White sauce (see below)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with olive oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices and half of zucchini rounds, overlapping slightly, on 1 baking sheet. Arrange potato rounds and remaining zucchini, overlapping slightly, on second baking sheet. Spray vegetables generously with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender and beginning to brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
 ... raw vegetables overlappiing ...

 ... the same raw vegetables, now roasted ...

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water if mixture seems dry, about 7 minutes. Stir in oregano. Add beef; sauté until brown, breaking up with back of spoon. Add tomatoes with their juices and tomato paste, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, egg whites and cinnamon.

 ... onions with garlic and oregano ...
the garlic is piled up in one spot but same colour as onions
...it maybe hard to distinguish...

Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil spray. Sprinkle 1/4 cup breadcrumbs over bottom of dish. Arrange potatoes in prepared dish. Spoon half of beef mixture over. Arrange eggplant slices over. Spoon remaining beef mixture over. Top with all of zucchini, overlapping slightly if necessary.

... layering of veggies and meat sauce ...

Pour warm Low-Fat White Sauce over moussaka. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over. Bake until top is golden brown, about 55 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

 ... white sauce has been added ...

White Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Whisk flour in heavy medium saucepan to remove any lumps. Gradually add 1 cup milk, whisking until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups milk and nutmeg; whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan, egg and butter. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat until heated through before using; do not boil.)

Friday, 14 February 2014

A Red Salad for Valentine's Day

Beet Root Salad

• 4 good-sized beetroots, different colours if possible, scrubbed, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
• 3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
• 1 lemon oil dressing recipe / 3 T oil, 1 T lemon juice / 1 garlic clove
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 200 g feta cheese
• 1 small bunch fresh mint, smallest leaves picked
• 1 large handful sunflower seeds, optional

Raw beetroot is amazing in salads, giving you a deep, earthy, minerally flavour, lots of crunch and, of course, incredible colours! Did you know you can get golden and stripy beetroot as well as purple? Have a look next time you're at a farmers' market or buy some seeds and grow a few yourself.

Dress the beetroot and pear matchsticks in a little of the lemon oil dressing and season with some salt and pepper.

Taste to check that the flavours are balanced and lovely, and add a little more lemon juice to check the sweetness of the pears and beetroots if you need to.

Divide the salad between four plates or put it on a big platter, crumble over the creamy white feta, and sprinkle over the baby mint leaves and the sunflower seeds if you're using them. Simple, but it's a treat and a half.

(I found the recipe on the internet, but can't give you the name of the author here, even though I have searched to find the recipe and her name again.  At any rate, I have done this recipe twice now, each time just leaving out the ingredients I don't have.  I am waiting until the farmer's market has fresh mint available or until I am at the lake, for example.   The first time I prepared this dish,  I just didn't have pears in the house but the salad was still good. Last night I put in a large apple pear and halved the recipe.  The salad is amazing -- a gourmet addition to my salad notebook.)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cracked Wheat Bread

Cracked Wheat Bread   (Bulgar or cracked wheat)

3/4 c.                     cracked wheat or bulgar
1 1/2c.                   boiling water
1 Tblsp.                 active dry yeast
pinch                     sugar
1/4 c.                     warm water
1 c.                         warm buttermilk
1/4 c.                     molasses
1 Tblsp.                 honey
4 Tbsp.                  butter (cut into small pieces - room temp.)
1 Tblsp.                 salt
1/4 c.                     raw sesame seeds
1 c.                         whole wheat flour
2 1/2 - 3 c.            bread flour

1.            In a bowl, place cracked wheat or bulgur and pour boiling water over it. Let sit for 1hour to soften.
2.            In a small bowl, place warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar. This process is called proofing the yeast.  It will bubble.
3.            Combine the buttermilk, molasses, honey and butter in a bowl and set aside.
4.            In mixer, mix together the whole wheat flour, salt and sesame seeds.  Stir in the milk mixture    and stir until smooth, about 3 min.  Strain the cracked wheat and add to the flour mixture until combined.  Add the flour about a half a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the mixer.  Dough should be soft and springy, but still tacky.  Dough should spring back   when touched with finger.
5.            Let rise until double in bulk at room temp.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
6.            Divide knead and make two or three loaves, depending on the size of your bread pans.  Put into greased loaf pans.  I use shortening or lard to grease my pans. Let rise until about double in size.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7.            Put into oven and bake for 35 - 40 min.  The loaves should be done when tapping them with    your finger sounds hollow.  Remove bread from the oven and place on racks to cool. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Whole Wheat Spaghetti

... old tupperware, resurrected for a good cause ...
I am trying to turn over a new leaf and think about vegetables, fruit and white meat in a more complimentary light.

Not that I haven't always loved them.  But they are not even a close second to desserts which I think about all of the time.  I collect recipes I will never use, I file them by dessert category, I read them while I eat lunch.  And my supper.

Lately I have been trying to put them out of my mind and think about vegetables, fruit and white meat.  Another category has also loomed large.  Pasta.  Nutritional pasta -- made from whole wheat.  A few years ago I tried it out and thought, "Better to eat no pasta than this pasta."

But in my present state of mind, I am even trying to add that kind of nutrition back into my diet.  My friend, Pouria, says that it is possible to develop a taste for it, so much so that a person will begin to choose it over the "white stuff".

So, in the interest of making real change, I bought some whole wheat spaghetti and used it for the noodles in a dish called  "Make-Ahead Party Thai Noodles" from Anne Lindsey's Light Kitchen.(p. 165)  She says, "These are particularly suitable for a buffet or when entertinaing as they can be made in advance and reheated."

Make-Ahead Party Thai Noodles

1/2 lb spaghetti
half each sweet red and yellow pepper, cut in thin strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/3 cup chopped green onion
4 cups bean sprouts

1/4 cup rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tbsp minced ginger root
1 1/2 tsp packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp chili paste or hot pepper sauce

1. In large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until tender but firm; drain.  Transfer to a 12 cup baking dish.
2. Sauce: Combine vinegar, hoisin sauce, water, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger root, sugar, garlic, mustard and chili paste.  Set one-third of the sauce aside; stir remaining sauce into noodles.
3. Stir in red and yellow peppers, coriander, onion and bean sprouts.
4. Add remaining sauce; bake, covered, in 350 F oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot.

Makes 8 servings

My Notes
My purpose was to get a good sauce on the whole wheat noodle.  I didn't have dry mustard and used the regular yellow mustard.  I didn't have hoisin sauce, but had black bean sauce, so made the substitution there.  I could see that the sauce is not cooked and I don't like that much fresh garlic, so I left that out.  Still, the noodles were excellent -- I am going to do this again and again with the whole wheat spaghetti I purchased (cheapest when you find it at Costco).  And I have done the requisite shopping trip to T&T groceries over at the Pacific Rim Shopping Centre to refresh my supply of hoi sin, sesame oil and dried shitake mushrooms, of which I will thrown in a few next time.

Now for the vegetables.  I just did a regular stir fry of the veggies I had in the house.  I substituted -- about 8 small carrots (but not baby) that I had julienned in my food processor (for speed); I didn't have coriander but would have loved to try it; I put in some celery.  Just do what  your family likes for a stir fry which is faster than baking everything in the oven.

Pouria and I tasted the dish.  We thought we could triple the vegetables next time.  Kelve tasted it.  He thought the dish should have 1/3 that number of vegetables.  But none of us complained about the noodles.

And here is a bonus.  Calories per serving?  168 and 2 grams dietary fibre

Just a smidgen

I don't know who else watches the cooking show, America's Test Kitchen on T.V. and its sister programme, Cooks Country. I tape them on Saturday morning and then watch them at my leisure. I like every segment, especially the Equipment Corner. A few weeks ago they tested measuring spoons, but only sets that have 1/8 teaspoon and upward. I don't have a set that as 1/8 teaspoon so I was looking for one in kitchen shops. I found one at $15. I decided to just fill my 1/4 teaspoon one-half full and save my $15.
... pinch, smidgen, dash ...

Today I got an e-mail mail with an attached picture from  Moiya.

It said:
Happy Valentine's Day
My gift to you.
Come and get it.
I can hardly wait to get back to the Shuswap and try them out in my kitchen.

I am guessing a double pinch will be 1/8th of a  teaspoon.


Home Made Greek Yogurt

things needed to make Yogurt
Desiree skyped me one day and was so eager to show me her first attempt at making yogurt. 

She held the spoon upside down and yes, it was the thickest yogurt I had ever seen.

Now I have tried at least 4 batches of yogurt in my new Excalibur Dehydrator.  My yogurt usually turns out likeYop. 

I was so proud of her, knowing her attempts at new things in the kitchen are better than her old mom's attempts.

I got good advice from her and proceeded to make it the same way she did.

Smearing the Yogurt up one side of jar.
Desiree used natural Fage Greek Yogurt.

2 Tblsp. on the bottom of each quart jar.

Using spatula; smear that Yogurt up one side of the jar.

I used "Yo -Mix" - a yogurt culture

Sprinkled about 1/8 tsp. on the bottom of the jar

1 Quart Milk
Heat up to 180 degrees
Cool to 110 degrees and pour into the quart jars.

Put into Dehydrator set at between 110 - 114 degrees
for about 6 hours. 

Refrigerate until cool to stop the incubation

This is regular Yogurt.
Home Made Greek Yogurt

To make the Greek Yogurt, you put the yogurt into a fine sieve
or use a colander lined with cheese-cloth. Save the whey as it drains.

What you see in the little black container is the Ricotta Cheese that I made from the Whey.

Bring the whey up to 200 degrees.

Cool to 140 degrees

Pour into a reusable coffee filter and drain.

Voila!   Ricotta Cheese

What whey that was left got put into the compost.

Our compost should be the best compost around now!


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Scottish Flapjacks

OK, so Robbie Burns day is fast approaching.  I wanted to make flapjacks to celebrate.  But I am trying to cut back on my carbs.  So instead, I will just blog about them.

I was so lucky to get to visit London while Greg and Wyona were living there.   One of the things I discovered that I fell in love with were flapjacks.  Now in Canada we think of flapjacks as just another word for pancakes.  Not so in the UK.

Flapjacks are basically an oatmeal bar, and oh, so good.

Classic Flapjacks

150g of butter or margarine
100-150g light brown sugar
2 tablespoon of golden syrup
        (some recipes call for up to 1/4 cup of golden syrup)
350g of porridge oats
1. Put the butter or margarine, sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the fat and sugar have melted.

2. Add the porridge oats and blend thoroughly.

3. Press into a well greased 18cm square sandwich tin.

4. Bake in the centre of a moderate oven at 180c or 350f or gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes or until evenly golden brown.

5. Mark into fingers whilst warm.

6. Allow to become almost cold in the tin before removing.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup

Here's one of my very favourite soups.  I pack it full of as many veggies as I can.  I use pork or chicken instead of the fish, cause I don't like fish.  I leave out the fish sauce cause the MSG in it makes me feel sick.  Instead of 2 fresh tomatoes I put in a whole can of diced tomatoes including the juice.  I never put in taro, cause I don't usually don't have it handy.  Instead I throw in some celery.  Don't have rice paddy herb?  I put in fresh cilantro.

For the tamarind paste, you can't substitute.  This a must.  You can get it at most Asian grocery stores.  Often in the soup section.  My favourite brand is the Knorr one.  You won't find this in the Knorr section of your regular grocery store. 

Use fresh pineapple.  It is the best.  Canned can be substituted.  But I only make this soup when fresh pineapples are on sale.

I like to pack this soup full of veggies, extra okra and bean sprouts.  I will put in mushrooms too.  And bok choy if I have it.


  • 1 small catfish cut into 1 inch steaks or 1 lb of catfish filets
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised and cut down into 3 inch lengths
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 8-12 okra, sliced into ½ inch segments
  • 2 stalks of taro stem (bac ha), peeled and sliced on a bias into 1 inch thick pieces
  • Big handful of bean sprouts
  • 3-4 sprigs of rice paddy herb (ngo om), chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar, adjust if necessary
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • Fried shallots
  1. Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, Thai chili and tamarind paste and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the catfish and brown for a couple of minutes. Remove the catfish and set aside. The catfish does not need to be fully cooked through at this point.
  2. Pour in the water over the sautéed ingredients. Add tomatoes and pineapple and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the catfish back in as well as the okra. Season with fish sauce and sugar to taste and continue to simmer for 3 minutes. Skim off the foam as it develops.
  4. Once the catfish is fully cooked, add in the taro stem and bean sprouts and turn off the heat. The residual heat will be enough to cook them.
  5. Top with rice paddy herb and a sprinkle of fried shallots and serve immediately.
Thanks to The Seasoned Wok for the recipe.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cake -- a variation on a Wyona classic

Tonight was the second time I have made this cake.  I swap the zucchini with pumpkin in this classic cake of Wyona's.  It turns out great.

Why pumpkin?  Here's a reminder.  Pumpkin snake.

Tomorrow a friend is coming over for dinner who can't have dairy, so this time I substituted canola oil for the butter and crabapple sauce for the buttermilk.  I always throw in a little extra cocoa for good measure.

Here's Wyona's recipe, posted by Laynie.

I decided to bake mine up in some specialty cupcake pans I have -- Valentine hearts and Halloween skulls.  A nice pairing I think.  (I only had to bake them for about 17 minutes)

I had enough batter to also bake two small round cakes.