Monday, March 29, 2010

Tree Hugger Letterboxing Meet Up

Tree Hugger Letterboxing Meet Up
May 15, 2010
St. Thomas, Ontario

Please join us for a day or two or three -- whichever works for you. We promise to keep you entertained and letterboxing in some very beautiful areas including Downtown St. Thomas, Old Talbot Street, Pinafore Park and areas further afield.

We will be introducing a new series of boxes representing Heritage Trees at this meet up.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray,
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose blossom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems were made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.
--Joyce Kilmer

Schedule of Events:

11 am: Registration at Pinafore Park, swaps, goodie bags
12 pm: Pot luck lunch, group photo, and then off letterboxing
7 pm: Supper and social at a local restaurant (location will be determined when we know how many people will be coming)

Last year’s Musical Mystery Tour boxes (a walking tour of downtown St. Thomas) are still active but with some changes, as well as the Pinafore Park boxes. The Dalewood/Waterworks area boxes will be re-planted before the meet up (They were pulled for the winter). And we will be introducing a new series representing Heritage trees.

Clue packages and goodie bags with lots of local information will be provided when your team registers.

If you would like to plant letterboxes while you are visiting us, we would be absolutely thrilled.

See you on the trail,
The Big Blue Team
St. Thomas, ON

Sunday, March 21, 2010

West Indian Chicken

If you like curry I think you will love this recipe. Hal and I are only fond of curry.

West Indian Chicken

2 servings
350 calories per serving

1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp ginger root, grated
1 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
1 chicken leg with back, skinless
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 green peppers, cut into strips
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp curry powder
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp fresh cilantro (optional)

Press the garlic, grate the ginger and put them in a bowl. Pour in the lime juice, then add salt and pepper. Separate the chicken drumstick from the thigh and put the pieces in the bowl. Rub the chicken with the marinade, then cover and let stand in the refrigerator overnight.

Prepare the vegetables: finely chop onion and cut the peppers into strips, peel the potatoes and cut into 1.5 cm cubes.

Heat the oil in a saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and saute thoroughly on each side until golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Take the chicken pieces out of the pan and set them aside, keeping them warm on a plate in the oven.

Lower the heat to medium, then add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes, taking care not to let it burn. Add the peppers and cook 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Mix the curry with a little bit of the coconut milk and add it to the pan. Cook 2 minutes over low heat with constant stirring.

Put the chicken back into the pan, then add the remaining coconut milk and enough water to make the mixture moist. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and brown sugar, cover and cook an additional 45-50 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Garnish with cilantro leaves then serve.

Chili con Carne

This chili recipe is quite lovely, mild and a very interesting flavour. I Served it with brown rice. I think I might enter this recipe into a chili cook off if we had one.

2 servings
390 calories per serving

1/2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 dried chili peppers, minced
1/2 green peppers, diced
1 tbsp canola oil
200 g ground beef, lean
3/4 cup canned tomatoes (diced or chopped)
1 tbsp tomato paste
ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup beef broth
1 tbsp water, if necessary
1-1/2 cups red beans (canned)
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1/2 lime (optional)

Prepare the vegetables. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic and chili pepper, and finely dice the bell pepper.

Heat half of the oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic about 3 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, with occasional stirring, paying attention not to let them burn. Remove from pan and set aside. Pour the remaining oil into the same pan, heat over medium heat, and add the ground meat. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the meat loses its pink colour.

Put the cooked onion and garlic back into the pan. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, diced bell pepper, minced chili pepper, cumin, and brown sugar. Pour in the warm broth. Cover and cook over very low heat 1-1/2 hours, checking occasionally that the mixture stays moist. Add water if necessary.

Drain the beans, rinse them and drain again. Add them to the pan, mix well, and cook an additional 8-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro leaves, garnish with lime wedges, then serve.

Melon Granita

4 servings
70 calories per serving

1/2 melon or cataloupe
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water

Peel the melon and remove the seeds. Coarsely dice the flesh, then transfer it to the jar of a blender. Pour in the lemon juice, sugar and water, then pulse until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large glass or metal pan, large enough so that the liquid will be less than 1 cm thick. Freeze until the mixture becomes a firm slush, about 40 minutes.

Scrape the surface with a fork and spoon out the shavings into transparent glasses to serve.

I have to say, neither Hal nor I were particularly happy with this recipe. I think I will try it again in the summer with local melons.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My first quilty finish of 2010

My sister Nancy made this gorgeous quilt top . . . and I did all the rest. This quilt is a present for my youngest grandson.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

WOW!! The best Caesar Salad I've ever eaten. Everything was so fresh and the dressing (which I did NOT put anchovies in) was fresh and just a little bite from the vinegar. I loved having fresh warm croutons that did not break teeth. Highly recommend this recipe.

2 servings
440 calories per serving

2/3 chicken breasts, skinless (400 g)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 slice whole wheat bread, cubed
2 anchovy fillets, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 slice bacon, chopped
1/2 Romaine lettuce, turn into bite-size pieces (I used 1 Romaine lettuce heart)
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat or preheat the broiler.

Pat the chicken dry, then brush it with a little of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the chicken until cooked through and golden-coloured, about 15 minutes, turning it once. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, lightly oil a baking sheet, using a little more of the oil. Lay the bread cubes on the sheet and coat them thoroughly with the oil. Grill or broil until the cubes are lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Drain the anchovy fillets, pat them dry on a paper towel, then mince.

In a small saucepan heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the crushed garlic then cook 2-3 minutes until it is softened. Add the minced anchovies, then stir and mash them 1 minute to form a paste. Set aside.

Separate the egg yolk from the white.

In a bowl, whisk together the yolk, mustard, vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the remaining olive oil in a stream, whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Add the garlic and anchovy paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a nonstick pan, fry the chopped bacon until crisp/ Set aside on a paper towel to absorb the excess fat.

Wash the romaine lettuce, then spin-dry. Reserve the outer leaves for another use. Tear the pale-green inner leaves into bite-size pieces.

In a salad bowl, toss the romaine lettuce with the croutons, the bacon bits and the dressing until the salad is well combined. Cut the chicken crosswise into thin slices, then arrange them over the salad and serve.

Steamed Couscous

2 servings
210 calories per serving

2/3 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup coucous
1 tsp butter, unsalted (optional)

Pour the water into a saucepan, then bring it to a rolling boil. Add the salt and oil. Remove the saucepan from heat then slowly pour in the couscous while stirring gently. cover for 2 minutes, until the couscous has swelled and all the water is absorbed. Add a little more water if the couscous looks too dry. 1-2 pats of butter can also be added, if you wish. Serve.

Hal and I both love couscous.

Apple Compote

This was our supper Saturday night: Garden Salad, Cabbage Soup, Green Lentil Stew with a Tomato Sauce, and Apple Compote.

Here's the dessert recipe:

7-1/2 apples
1/1-4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Cut the apples into quarters without peeling the. (I peeled 8) Put them in a saucepan.

Pour 1-2 cm of water in the bottom of the saucepan and add sugar. Cover and cook over low heat about 10 minutes, until the apples are softened completely.

Puree the apples using a food mill. Let the puree cool down and serve cold or at room temperature. (I left the apple quarters whole; didn't puree them)

A lovely light dessert; a perfect end to the meal.

Green Lentil Stew with a Tomato Sauce

I've renamed this "Tomato Stew". Delicious. Simple. Very filling.

2 servings
190 calories per serving

7 tbsp green-brown lentils(dried), rinsed and drained
1 cup My Mother's Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
salt to taste

It is not necessary to soak the lentils in advance.

Rinse the lentils and pick out any small stones and debris. Cook them in a saucepan of salted water, about 20-25 minutes until tender but still somewhat al dente. Drain the lentils, discard the liquid and set them aside.

Heat My Mother's Tomato Sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the lentils and cook 5-7 minutes, with occasional stirring, until the lentils are fully cooked.

Serve with steamed couscous, steamed basmati rice or steamed brown rice.

I served it with whole wheat couscous and it was perfect.

My Mother's Tomato Sauce

makes 2-1/2 cups

1-2/3 cup canned tomatoes (diced or chopped)
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

A food processor to chop the vegetables and a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time would make things easier with this recipe.

Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.

Heat the oil and butter in the pressure cooker or in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chopped vegetables. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times; the vegetables must soften without burning. Add the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

If you are using a pressure cooker, cover, close and bring to high pressure. Cook 15 minutes from the time it starts to spatter (Follow the manufacturer's directions to determine when high pressure has been reached. If you are not using a pressure cooker, simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

This sauce can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Freeze larger quantities.

Cabbage Soup

8 servings
Preparation 10 min / Cooking 50 min
140 calories per serving
onions, thinly sliced
600 g
7 cups
Savoy cabbage, or green , finely chopped
550 g
2 1/2
carrots, shredded
260 g
1 1/2 tbsp
canola oil
23 mL
2 1/2 tbsp
butter, unsalted
35 g
3/4 tsp
3 g
1 1/4 tsp
5 g
1/2 tsp
ground pepper
2 g
5 1/2 cups
chicken broth
1.38 L
2 3/4 cups
milk, partly skimmed, 2%
700 mL
Before you start
A food processor will make chopping the vegetables easier.
1. Prepare the vegetables: thinly slice the onions; finely chop the cabbage; shred the carrots.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetables, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir well, then cover and cook 25 min over very low heat.
3. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15 min. Pour in the milk, then adjust the seasoning.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
The soup keeps up to 7 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. Milk may be added when the soup is reheated.

This soup is delicious and simple to make . . . but . . . I found out that my husband of 26-1/2 years does not like cooked cabbage (only likes raw in salads) . . . you learn something new every day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

30 Minute Layout SUBSTITUTION and still time to book . . .

As you can see from my previous post, I had already designed a 2-page layout for my half of the 30-minute Layouts class . . . LOL . . . and then last night I had a thought . . . so when I woke up this morning I used the exact same papers and created this layout and I like it even better . . . so SUBSTITUTION . . . Hope you don't mind.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm still scrapping . . .

This is my first original layout of the month although I was helped by the February sketch of the month at one of my favourite Yahoo groups . . .

Two layouts so far this week!!

Both layouts use photos from a murder mystery in June 2008. In both layouts I used crop circle kits. I love crop circles.

Speaking of crop circles . . . the regulars who do this swap have decided that at the next crop circle swap (March 27 @ the Central United Crop) swap kits need to be turned in as soon as you arrive at the crop. I'm looking forward to swapping again!!! I'm getting low on kits . . .

Monday, March 8, 2010

Three New Boxes . . . and more to come

Heritage Trees: ApricotHand CarvedDrive-by

by Big Blue Team
Location: 43565 Roberts Line, Central Elgin, ON
The Heritage Tree Committee of the St. Thomas Field Naturalist Club was established in 1990 to promote appreciation of the significant native and introduced tree species in Elgin County. One hundred twenty-four trees have been selected and labelled as representatives of the county's diverse flora, because of their interest, rarity and size and for their accessibility due to the generous co-operation of the landowners. These trees represent a portion of the natural heritage of the County of Elgin. Each tree has a plaque denoting the name of the tree.

There is a very old apricot tree (Prunus aremeniaca) near the road at 43565 Roberts Line, Central Elgin, Ontario. This property belongs to the Ward family, who are organic farmers:

Wardcrest Farms
Robert & Eleanor Ward and Steven & Kimberley Ward
43565 Roberts Line, RR#1, Union
Simmental Beef: Since 1972, the Ward family has farmed using organic methods. Their premium quality beef is grassfed and hormone-free. A selection of frozen cuts can be ordered by phone. Closed Saturday.

Check out this Heritage Tree, get a nice photo, and then continue east on Roberts Line until you reach Centennial Avenue. Turn left on Centennial Avenue and park beside the first evergreen tree you see on the right hand side of the road. Our hand carved stamp is wired to the back of the tree about eye level.

Please make sure the box is well hidden when you finish stamping. Thanks for finding Heritage Trees: Apricot.

Target PracticeHand CarvedDrive-byIndoors

by Big Blue Team
Location: 30 Talbot St, Saint Thomas, ON
The Elgin County Military Museum is an amazing place to visit.

In one of the display rooms you will find a group of friends: Enfield, Thompson, Smith, Webley, Wesson and Lewis. They don't do much anymore as they've all been rendered inoperative. Look above their meeting place to locate "Target Practice". Enjoy your visit to the museum.

Jumbo is in the CircusHand CarvedDrive-byIndoors

by Big Blue Team
Location: 30 Talbot St, Saint Thomas, ON
Find the "Jumbo Room" at the Elgin County Military Museum.

According to the curators, this display will be moving at least once during 2010, probably twice. But that's okay, because circuses tend to move around a lot. Because the display will be moving the only clue that we can give is to keep your eyes wide open for a small plastic box.

Playing Catch Up

If I've said it ONCE, I've said it a MILLION times . . . sometimes life just gets in the road of all the things you WANT to do. That has been the case for me the past couple of months. But I'm slowly getting back to NORMAL . . . okay MY normal. I even found time to do some scrapbooking this past week. Nothing amazing . . . in fact I sort of feel like I'm cheating . . . just adding photos and journaling to 2 class samples and 1 crop circle. Do you see the lovely dishcloth photo? I posted that as a mystery crochet-along a few weeks back and just finished it this weekend.

I'm having a busy week again this week but it's all fun busy stuff:

Tuesday is LADIES DAY OUT. I really enjoy this time to craft and connect with other women. If you use Facebook, you can check it out here. Every week we meet at the Grand Central Apartment's Community room just to get away and enjoy adult conversation. Bring an unfinished project or new project or even a crossword puzzle! We have so far seen: painting, scrap booking, card making, needlepoint, knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, puzzles, reading and genealogy. I will be bringing 2 quilts that I'm hoping to finish up this week. There is a full kitchen to be used, including a fridge, stove and microwave. We even baked fresh cookies a couple weeks ago! There is no cost, but donations for the coffee are requested. Bring your snacks and drinks and come out for an hour or the day. We have been known to bring snacks to share, but that isn't a requirement! March dates are all Tuesdays! The 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. Come in behind the Grand Central Apartments on Talbot St, St Thomas and park in the parking lot. There are doors marked "mall entrance". Come in and the elevator is directly to your left. Go down one floor and head to your left again.....the first door on your left is the common room (generally you can hear us). The door is closed ONLY to keep the heat in during these cold months....come right in and join us.

Friday is going to be fun. We are having a Jello recipe swap. Here's the information for this event if you use Facebook. Bring your favourite jell-o concoction with the recipe, for a lovely little buffet on Friday March 12th to "celebrate(?)" the start of March Break. It is not necessary to scrapbook the recipe card but please bring at least 6 copies. Collect some great new recipes and get to sample them at the same time. What can be better than that? Feel free to bring a friend to join us with his/her favourite! Just let me know how many are coming.

Thirty Minute Layouts is on Saturday at Mom's studio. We have room for 8 people and I believe we are over half way there. So don't delay. Book your seat today. This is such a fun class and you get to walk away with 4 completed layouts in 2 hours. I know Mom has planned some awesome techniques for her 2 pages, including bleaching.

So the only thing related to this blog that I am still behind on is the Organization Challenge. I will post the last couple of challenges as soon as I find one of the disks. You see, I thought it was a good idea to set up my craft table in the former dining room, now computer/office space. The problem is that everything is getting piled up on it . . . coupons, books, newspapers, you name it . . . but with my stash being organized I am able to scrapbook again . . . on the dining room table.