Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Community

I tried two recipes from Pinterest today!

Thinking about that made me realize that there are so many ways to belong to a "community".

I have been a hesitant Pinner.  It took awhile to figure out how to maneuver through it all.  I think I have it figured out now; at least, I am satisfied that I've seen enough and learned enough from it given the amount of time that I want to spend there, which isn't a lot.

Neat truth - Pinterest is made better by the friends that you are surrounded with.  If your friends are pinning interesting things/things that are interesting to you, your Pinterest time will be more rewarding.

Kinda like life, isn't it?

I love hanging out with my musician friends....but, it is far more enjoyable if we share musical tastes, AND even more fun if we can make music well together.

My nursing friends are a fantastic bunch of people to be with and, because many of them love their job like I love mine, we share nursing on deeper levels than just 'providing care'.  You know what sweetens that pot?  Our mutual love for old people!

It is wonderful to find another person who loves to read.....and it's even better when they share favorite books.

Don't you love a fellow crafter who teaches you new crafts?

It was so interesting participating in many tea-related discussions at work after my last blog post!  Who knew that there were so many of us who love tea?!!

It's not just a matter of belonging to a community; it's more the blessing of belonging to a community that contains people who will enrich your life and who will encourage you to grow and be better at "______".

So, today, I stuck my neck out and "pinned" a couple more things to my boards, brought to my attention by my friend Debbie in Nova Scotia.  It's nice to share a mutual interest in gardening; the world seems so much smaller, "seeing her" around the boards.  Then I washed my smelly towels in a vinegar and baking soda wash, thanks also to Debbie pinning that as a household tip.  For supper I made a Mongolian Beef slow cooker meal, also from Pinterest (oddly enough - I went "hmm....don't really like it" and the boys both think it is wonderful!  Huh?").  And, then for dessert, while sipping another tea latte (oh I MUST tell you about this one!) my last "pin-inspired" thing for the day....

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Pretzel Treats

3 Tbsp butter
1 pkg marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups rice krispies
2 cups crushed pretzels
2 cups chocolate chips

Melt the marshmallows with the butter, add peanut butter and stir until smooth and combined.  Mix the rice krispies and pretzels with the melted marshmallow combination and press into a greased 9 x 13" pan.  Melt the chocolate chips and spread on top.  Chill.  Slice.  Eat.

Just one.  We must watch our waistlines.  Let's support each other by making healthy choices.  Sort of.

;)

FYI - the bars would be equally fantastic without the chocolate layer on top....

Oh, and the latte I'm sipping? 
1 cup very strong Bengal Spice tea (I used 2 bags to 1 cup of water)
1/2 cup hot milk
3 Tbsp cinnamon syrup (syrup recipe = 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon - boiled for 5 minutes, then kept in the fridge)

Thanks for being part of this little community in my corner of the world called "Make Again".

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I Love....

....so many things.....

  • first snowfall of the winter
  • .....the last snowfall of the winter....
  • 10 year old sons who still want to go out with mom.  Too big to hold your hand, but not too big to be with you and who still consider you kinda "cool".  Heavy emphasis on the kinda.
  • 13 year olds who give very few signs of thinking that you're not cool, too.....yet....  ;)  Who show you that they still kinda like you by snuggling up close during a movie
  • a good, good, good concert, and make it LOUD!
  • quiet music in a quiet house
  • good days at work
  • great days at home
  • a good read
  • a new craft
  • a new and exciting recipe
  • an old "tried and true" comfort food meal
  • rain
  • warm sun
  • camping
  • coming home
  • my silly, smart, talented, thoughtful husband
  • fuzzy slippers
  • summer flip flops
  • blue jeans and yoga pants, both trumped by a good pair of pajamas
  • dressing up
  • a strong cup of coffee
  • and a beautifully mellow cup of.......
TEA!!!

We've recently made a point of stopping at David's Tea in the Lawson Heights Mall in Saskatoon a couple of times.  The first time, well, I just needed a calming cup of tea.  Just did.  We stopped there on a whim, hoping to find something warm and soothing and good for the soul.  I was impressed with the store and how and what they offer.  Since that first trip there, I've been scheming hoping to return and to expand my tea tastes, to give a little nudge in the direction of finding a "guilty pleasure" that would be light on the budget (well, sort of) and heavy on the comfort.  I came home with a nice cuppa tea for the trip, plus 3 small sizes of teas to imbibe in at home.

When they told me last time that any tea that they serve could be served fresh and hot, in a latte or in an iced fashion, I got thinking that one could take this tea thing and nudge it a little in the direction of experiments/new flavor sensations.  To this point, I've only ever tried tea lattes in the following flavors - London Fogs (Earl Grey), Chai (see here), and a deliciously delicate Japanese Mist (cherry vanilla) latte at Waskesiu a couple of summers ago.  So, when we got home, I started doing a bit of research on the syrups attached to tea lattes.  I did notice that David's Tea sweetens their tea with a simple syrup instead of sugar, and the syrup users state that there is less of a grainy texture to the sweetener.  Well, can't say that I ever thought sugar was all that gritty, but on the other hand, a poorly stirred cup of tea does leave a sugar film on the bottom of the cup.

Simple Syrup Recipe, for ordinary sweetening:

1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar

Boil gently for 5 minutes.  Store in a decorative bottle or squeeze bottle for easy dispensing.  I haven't been able to find the ratio of sugar equivalent yet, but I think I'd start with a tablespoon of syrup to equal a teaspoon of sugar and experiment from there.  I may be way off with that, but it's a fair place to start, I think.

The next research showed that London Fogs are sweetened with Vanilla Syrup

Vanilla Syrup

1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla

Boil water and sugar gently for 5 minutes.  Take off the burner and stir in vanilla.

Let's be real here; homemade lattes and syrup knockoffs are SO SIMPLE.  And cheap! 

I love.

Earl Grey is a decent tea, but not a favorite.  However, I do have some Earl Grey tea in the cupboard, so in the spirit of all things adventurous, I made myself a London Fog this afternoon, if for no other reason than to get a little milk in me and to experiment with these syrups.

London Fog

1 cup strong Earl Grey tea - let it sit for a good 5 minutes if possible.
1/2 cup heated milk - I stirred mine in a pot on the stove with a whisk to get the foamy action
3 Tbsp vanilla syrup

Done!  And I'm loving it!

Analytically, next time I will let the tea steep just a tad longer, or maybe even use 2 tea bags.  The milk does dilute the tea quite a bit.  3 Tbsp of syrup is plenty.  I may even try less next time.

But, I'm already planning on a 'next time' for the London Fog and that makes me happy!

Have to confess that one of my New Year's resolutions this year was "drink more tea". 

I've thought about that a few times and have giggled at that resolution a little bit.  "Drink more tea"?  Is that all you could come up with?  How about "spend more time with friends"?  "Study a new language"?  "Be a better wife/mother", etc.?

.....drink more tea?????.....

'Drink more tea', because to drink a cup of tea, you have to slow down.  You have to take the time to boil a cup of water and let the tea steep.  You sip the tea not too slowly, not too quickly, and it soothes the soul.  The very process of making a cup of tea soothes the soul.

I steep, I sip, and I slow down and I remember that life is good and life offers an eclectic variety of things to savour, if only you take the time to discover them.

And.       I.       LOVE.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Marching Through...um, March!

I try not to be absent from here too much but time goes on, doesn't it?

I haven't cooked anything out of the ordinary lately.  I have "pinned" a couple of recipes from Pinterest that I might like to try soon.  We bought some pike at the local fish market last week and made that for supper one day.  Wow, so good!

I have been busy doing other creative things.  One day I hauled my sewing machine up to work on a bag that I had cut out.  Somewhere in there, I got distracted with a bunch of a couple of other projects and I've been sewing up a storm.  The projects that I've been working on have been random, small jobs, with a little bit of mending thrown in there for good measure.  I haven't sewn this much for years and I even managed to fix my tension (thread tension, that is) issues this afternoon.  It's been good to work on something new and challenging. 

I'm already eyeing up Andrew's room for my new sewing room after he leaves home     

Some day, I hope to have a sewing room, where the sun shines in through the window and I can leave things out for spontaneous creativity. 

Incidentally, I have been so distracted with my fun projects that I haven't even started the bag yet....  All things in good time.

Other things have been on my mind.  People, actually.  I don't know, I know that not all of you understand my faith - it is a personal thing, for sure.  But, there have been so many people on my mind lately, I just have to pray for them.  And I really mean "pray" - no empty promises.  I can't help it.  The burdens of people around me are heavy.  And so I pray.  I sew.  And pray.  I cook.  And pray.  I read.  And pray.  And God puts another name on my heart and I think "another person to pray for, Lord?  Wow, this is keeping me BUSY!"  Who am I but an ordinary gal having some simple conversations with God about people I love. 

That's what's on my heart today.  Doesn't make for very interesting reading on your part, hey?!!

I did try a new recipe for supper and really quite enjoyed it.  It's a version of a "Taco Pie" and it was sourced from "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" - see link.

I know, I know.  I hate making pies.  But somehow, the pressure was off a bit with it not being a dessert pie.  The crust recipe looked fairly forgiving, and hearty, even, so I gave it a go. 

Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup shortening
4 Tbsp cold water

Add shortening to dry ingredients and mix until small crumbs are formed.  Add cold water and stir until the dough comes together.  Divide the dough in half and roll out the bottom crust and place in a deep pie plate.

Filling:

1 lb hamburger
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili pepper
s and p to taste
Fry until hamburger no longer pink.

Add:
1 395 ml tin of tomato sauce
1 tin kernel corn, drained
1/3 tin refried beans

Brush the bottom crust with an egg wash.  Place the remaining 2/3 tin of refried beans on the crust, then layer 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, meat mixture, 1 more cup of grated cheddar cheese.

Roll out remaining crust, vent the top with a large "X" and place on top of the pie.  Brush with remaining egg wash.

Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 45 more minutes.  When finished baking, let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.  Serve with salsa and sour cream - a necessity!!

Thanks for reading even when my creativity has been invested in other areas besides this blog.  Just bein' me today.