Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Quick Methods of Preservation

I recently published an article in the local paper about the quickest methods to preserve all our garden veggies, out of necessity. I'm heavily-pregnant and don't want my vegetables to spoil while I'm busy with a new baby! Naturally the fastest methods of preserving are:
1) Freezing without blanching (veggies can last 6 months like this)
2) Freezing after blanching (a bit more time, but they'll last longer in the freezer)
3) Pack in sand in a root cellar (if you have one, and this option isn't available for all veggies)
4) Slice and dehydrate (only fast if you have a slicer and a dehydrator)

Since I'll be relying on the above methods after baby is born, I decided to invest my time in the more time-consuming methods of preservation while I was still able, namely canning. Some canning recipes take up more time than others, too. For example, making a relish takes longer than simply packing in brine. I learned that last year when I overtaxed myself making hundreds of "fancy" recipes instead of just making sure things were preserved. On the plus side, I ended up with more pie fillings than you can shake a stick at!
So what are your favourite methods of preserving the harvest when you're short on time? Fave quick recipes? Comment!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Maternity Romper

I invented a pattern (that's right... run in fear!). It's hot summertime and my last child was a winter-baby so I have only one pair of shorts. That alone necessitated the invention of this pattern. I have a 44" belly right now, and this is not form-fitting, so hopefully it will fit any Medium-sized woman (pre-pregnancy) her entire 9 months. Good thing about it is I can step right into it - no need for a zipper! It was one of my first times sewing with jersey knit, and I must admit, it's rather nice.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Booties or Slippers

I have to give credit where it's due... I have been on the hunt for the PERFECT bootie for a long time. Something quick, minimal sewing, cute, doesn't fall off, and no seams showing. Well, I found it on the <"a href="http://dorothy-comewhatmayandloveit.blogspot.ca/2010/01/bootie-tutorial.html">Dorothy Was Here blog. Her slippers/booties are so amazingly wonderful that there are no words to describe them. I have made several pairs (even some for donation) and upsizing is not hard to eyeball.



Naturally, if you're going to make a bajillion, or if they're not for home use, please head over to her blog and see her rules on that.



Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tapping Maple Trees

I live in a house surrounded by Manitoba Maples (also known as Box Elders). Although these trees don't give the same syrup as trees found in Quebec, the sap can still be made into a tasty syrup. So this spring I finally had the equipment and time to tap them. I had two taps (one of which broke... my own fault). Here is a picture of our pot hanging to catch the drips.

 photo treetap1_zps075267d8.jpg

The drips came at a steady pace. The temperature last night when we tapped was +8 celcius and it got down to -3 celcius at night. Today it looks like it's going to rain and there's a heavy wind, but it's +3 celcius. So I brought it in before the rain. This means we only collected from 6 p.m. to noon and still got a hefty amount:

 photo treetap2_zps7e20de03.jpg

Thus ends our tree-tapping experiment for this year. This was simply to see what it was all about and whether it was possible. I am boiling down the sap as I type and have vowed to try again next year. One thing I will do differently is buy metal spigots instead of cheap plastic. Tap on!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Cheap and Healthy

It is entirely possible to make healthy smoothies in a regular blender. You don't need to buy a super-expensive high-powered one, unless you use tough ingredients or use it daily. In my husband's country, people regularly make "smoothies". Two of the most popular ones amongst the immigrants are as follows:

Banana Smoothie:
Fill blender with milk and add 1-2 bananas and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend 30 seconds.

Pineapple Smoothie:
Fill blender with water and add 1/2-inch chunks of freshly-cut pineapple and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend 30 seconds.

Naturally, both of these recipes can be tweaked easily. I'm guessing the Pineapple smoothie recipe uses water instead of milk due to the acidity of the fruit. It seems to me that mango would pair quite well with it. As for the banana smoothie, bananas love strawberries! And feel free to experiment with using honey instead of sugar - honey is very healthy.



Now here's a recipe I just tried out tonight. I can't remember which website I found it on, but I tweaked it because my blender is too wimpy for ice:

1 cup chilled water
1 drink-juice box of Orange Juice
1 banana
1 cup red seedless grapes

I tested the recipe out on my 3-year old who suggested I run it through a strainer because the grape peels added a bit too much texture for her liking. I tried it as well and think it could do with some yogurt, but that might be personal preference. Try it out and tell me what you think!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Another On the Way

I am expecting another child, due in September, so this website won't get as much love in the meantime. Not only that, but my little girl is now 3 years old and I plan to do lots of gardening with her this summer. Mostly what we plant will go towards making our own baby food (she loves to use the blender), such as pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, and turnips. I have a very active little girl, and living in Manitoba where summers are so short, we practically live outside once it gets warm. So, I will post what I can on here from now until the birth of my second child, but if you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly at tcochranedm@gmail.com - thanks and have a great spring, summer and fall!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Happy and Unhappy New Year

Well, 2014 has arrived. The wonderful New Years news is that I am pregnant. The not-so-good news is that my 2-year old daughter suffered a spiral fracture on her left leg. Having a super-active little one stuck in a cast for a month is not fun or easy, however it has helped me think of different activities to do with her. We've explored new crafts and even invited a nurse to our house for a mini-lesson on checkups (she got to use a stethoscope, but she was scared of the blood pressure cuff). I made several lessons that can be adapted for individual kids or small groups, which I will post under the "Homeschool" section sometime this week.