August 25, 2011

Friday's Freebies: Kale

Friends of ours just went on holidays, so they gave us some farmer's market kale that had to be used up.  I love kale when other people make it, but am a little inexperienced with it myself.  So I thought the easiest thing would be to make kale chips, which involves tossing bite-size pieces of kale in some olive oil and salt and baking for about 15 minutes until you have dry and crunchy 'chips.'  They are actually quite crispy, but obviously not as heavy as potato chips.
In the Oven

Crispy Snack from the Bowl
 If you make them, I would recommend brushing (or at least checking) your teeth afterwards.  Hus and I were laughing at the dark green flecks left on our front teeth after eating them!  At least it showed we were eating our greens!


August 24, 2011

Pantry & Freezer Purging

Last post I showed you my kitchen.  I have a little confession to make; it isn't usually that clean!  But I got so into the spirit of cleaning for that photo shoot, I also decided it was high time to go through my pantry and freezer.  I had to purge a few things (i.e. freezer burnt chicken breasts - I don't even know how they got there!) but tried to salvage as much usable food as possible.  
First, I had to deal with a humongous jar of hardened honey.  Did you know that honey lasts indefinitely since bacteria can't grow in it?  I once read that survivalists stockpile it for the end of the world.  I probably won't save mine for that possibility, but I softened the crystallized honey in a warm water bath and then poured it into an easier container to use it from.

Next, I used some of that honey to cure a year-old salmon from the freezer.  After two days in salt, sugar and honey I brought it to a friend's house and used their smoker to make candied salmon.  It turned out really good.
I also had tons and tons of berries in the freezer.  Some of them were too old to use, but I rescued last year's cherries  to make a pie for a potluck on the weekend.  Today, I used the rest to make a cherry/saskatoon berry upside down cake.
The pantry also held some dried and canned goods that were long-in-the-tooth.  I threw together a lima bean and green lentil salad that we ate for a few lunches. I also had a can of applesauce of unknown vintage lurking in the back of the cupboard, so I also made low-fat apple bran muffins.  I hate to waste nuts, so I made a batch of Tamari Almonds.  
 These are really fun to make.  You roast the almonds until they are really hot and start to smell, then put them in a bowl and immediately drizzle Tamari sauce on them (I suppose soy sauce would work as well).  At this point, the almonds start to crackle and sizzle as they soak up the sauce.  Spread them back out on the baking sheet and wait for them to dry.  Voila, one of the easiest snack recipes ever.
I still have to think of some creative ways to use a huge bag of shelled raw peanuts I have in the freezer, as well as frozen edamame beans.  In the fridge I have kale, cauliflower and spinach which needs to be used and fast!
On the plus side, I can now find things in my pantry and all my dry goods are organized into containers (rather than spilling out of plastic bags), and my freezer once again has space.

August 15, 2011

My Kitchen: Before and After

Early last year I blogged about redoing our kitchen here and here and promised before-and-after pictures.  However, like a lot of renovations, we lost some motivation and the last bits took a while to be completed.  In our case it was the back-splash; but we finished it this summer!  


This is the original kitchen to our 1979 house.  When we moved in 7 years ago, the walls and cabinets were all painted an off-white colour, which just seemed dirty.  I wanted to brighten the kitchen up so I painted the cabinets a colour called 'carotene.'  Since the counter arborite was yellow, this seemed one of the only colours which would go. Some people loved and and some hated it, but it was a quick makeover to the kitchen that eventually needed to be redone.  I particularly disliked the pantry (seen in the last two shots), which was so narrow you had to be a contortionist to reach into, and the wall between the kitchen and living room which made the room really small.  Invariably when we had a party, guests would congregate in the kitchen and lean against the counters.  I was always asking them to move so I could reach into drawers.

The biggest change was to pull down the L shaped wall that separated the kitchen and living room.  Behind it was a small hallway that was a waste of space.  This was an expensive reno, since the builders put the electrical box in this wall (even though it was a non-supporting one).  So we had to hire an electrician and relocate the box and all the wiring.  

Ta Da!  Here is our new kitchen, with recently installed back-splash.  As you can see the horrible pantry is gone, we added an island for storage, and the refrigerator was relocated to the other side (where the pantry once was).

We hired a local cabinet maker to build and install the cabinets, and got just what we wanted with a European style with the grain of the fir veneer going horizontal.  Our cabinet maker did a fantastic job matching up the grain from door to door.
  Since we couldn't find a quality stainless steel sink (like they used to make) we opted for a composite sink.  It is really deep!  
There is no dishwasher.  Since we weren't used to having one we opted for more cupboard space instead.  We are so happy to work in this kitchen now with all the counter space.  Guests automatically sit at the island and I feel like a much better hostess!  And since that horrible wall is gone, there is a better flow to the living room and we can set up long tables to seat numerous guests.  The island makes a perfect buffet for these large dinners.
Here are a few closeups of my mid-century decorations...
 End-of-the-island bookshelf with my Goebel piggy (and fishy) banks.
Figgjo Flint Folklore wall plaque.  I love those happy Norwegian people with their huge spread.

Our inspiration came from many places, and loosely from this wonderful house tour at the blog,  Of course their home is much older than ours, but I was inspired by the pops of red and orange, the mid-century Scandinavian and English touches, and the natural tile and wood.

I hope you've enjoyed my kitchen tour.

August 14, 2011

Vintage Baubles for Me; Vintage Decorations for my House

Here are a few things I purchased over the last week from garage sales and the thrift store.  I am still finding vintage jewellery to add to my collection.  Below is a golden Coro brooch, a red enamel one, and a strand of tiny irregular pearls.
I've already worn the pearls several times, and the Coro brooch once.  At the same garage sale I found this good quality bedskirt, so I paid $15.50 for the lot.
Perhaps that is a little much, but I was already looking for a bedskirt for my newly repainted bedroom and didn't think I could find anything close to this at conventional stores.
At a different garage sale I came home with something that I didn't need....
....this plastic, orange, mushroom-shaped 70s lamp.  I am a sucker for the colour orange, and since such things are so rare, I couldn't leave it behind.  Afterwards I told Hus I had buyer's remorse and he wondered how much I had paid for it.  When I replied "three dollars" he looked relieved and reassured me that it was a neat find for that amount of money.  It is now residing in our office, and I expect it will stay there.

During the week I visited the thrift shop and found two plates for the decorating project I want to do in our stairwell.  
The top one is Myott, English china that I am unfamiliar with.  Don't you think it looks like a contemporary design?  But the stamp on the back looks like it is from the 1960s or 1970s.  And the bottom one is Kathie Winkle; the pattern is Calypso. A dollar each.
And finally I threw in these .25 vintage cupcake toppers.  (or at least that's what I assume they are)
I guess that commits me to making cupcakes next Valentine's Day!

I am linking this post of my thrifted finds to Flea Market Finds over at the blog 'Her Library Adventures.'

August 07, 2011

Shiny Thrifts for Christmas and gift giving

I also purchased a few Christmas things on my three month hiatus from this blog.  
Four older christmas ornaments from an antique shop for .75 cents each, and some mini-bulbs in the original box.  Someone came by and also wanted his picture taken at the same time, so here is a gratuitous dog photo....
Anyway back to the mini-bulbs.  I bought these at the Salvation Army.  I have to admit, I bought them mostly for the box, with its three-colour silk screen, 60s (?) font and the whimsical winter scene, but at a quarter this could be justified.
I'm sure I'll use them somewhere.  
I also bought a few Anchor Hocking dishes that my sister over at Carpe Diem Acreage is collecting.  She's been a great help in adding to my Kathie Winkle collection, and I'm happy to return the favour.
These came from the same antique store and Sally Ann as my Christmas stuff.  I got the side plate for only .50 cents, which my Sis tells me is a good deal.  Too bad she'll have to wait until Thanksgiving for me to deliver it!

August 06, 2011

Gravlax Experiment

Another thing I did while in England was attend the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery.  Hands down this was the best conference I ever attended!  I went for academic interests, but came away with a new appreciation of cuisine and the importance of celebrating and preparing local foods.  
When we got back home, we were lucky enough to be given a fresh sockeye salmon by a friend.  I have wanted to make gravlax, so I thought I would give it a try.  Gravlax is a refrigerator-cured salmon using salt, sugar and lots and lots of dill.  I used this recipe from the How to Cook Meat blog, except I also added Vodka.  And here is the finished product...

The hardest part was to fillet the whole salmon, especially since my fillet knife is a dull cheapie.  Luckily you slice the cured salmon off the skin, so no one had to see the ragged, ripped-up salmon skin.  Otherwise, you just have to flip the salmon every twelve hours for three days and weigh it down.  Some recipes even skip this part and only cure it for 24 hours.  It was really good, and we ate several lunches from it, as well as taking it to a potluck where it was complemented.  

August 05, 2011

Portobello Road Find

One of my destinations in London was Portobello Road Market to browse its vintage and antique shops.  We got there on one of our last days!  Here is the picture I made Hus take (we only had to wait for someone else taking the same picture to get out of the way).
Unfortunately, we didn't have incredible amounts of time that day, nor luggage space to do extensive shopping.  We took only one carry-on bag each.  I was, however, able to ferret away one small and cheap item - only 20p (about 30 North American cents).

It is a bread and butter plate by Biltons.  I am not planning to use it in the kitchen, but I loved the colours and have had a decorating project in mind using colourful and unique plates.  I want to use thrifted plates to add colour to my stairwell.  Here are a few pictures of what I have in mind...

I guess I have a lot of thrifting left to do since I only have this plate and one other for my project!  Hopefully I'll be able to find a Catherine Holm plate like the orange one in the top photo

August 04, 2011

Container Collection

So in having a look around to post some of the collections I've amassed over the last three months (of not posting) I found I had purchased a few containers.  
I just bought the jar in the back for .50 cents last Sunday at the flea market, the Avon owl at a garage sale several weeks ago for $2, and the tin at a thrift shop in the lower mainland several months ago for $3.
Have a closer look at this happening tin...
It is labelled 'Riley's Toffee Halifax England' on the bottom.  At first I didn't know what to do with it, but I recently filled it with toffees (Kerr's brand) and set it in our living room.  I have plans with the other two containers as well.  This is my third glass jar like this, so this one is destined to hold bulk nuts once I clean out my pantry.  The hole opening in the Avon bottle is quite large, so I will use it in my bedroom (which I'm currently painting and redecorating) to hold bobby or safety pins.