Thursday, April 19, 2012

Farm House Renovations in P.E.I. (Again!)

I am heading off to Prince Edward Island the first of May, about a week and a half before my husband and his son. So the above picture could represent my saying "hooray". Actually the picture is a victory of sorts as I'm standing on my sister Jane's front porch. She purchased this sweet house on the West end of the island. After much driving around the area last summer and phoning her back home from a fabric shop in O'Leary, we found it! It was a cold, rainy day also, so double victory for persevering..

This will be my last blog until I return from the island but as I don't blog daily or even weekly, who will notice? My husband with step-son Ryan who is joining us for two weeks of  hard work, will drive out to the island, leaving May 13th. Ryan is an arborist so thrilled he will trim the apple trees on our property, plus plant some trees he has purchased for us. I don't know when he thinks he will get time off to do that!

I'm busy doing laundry, packing clothes, hubby's and mine plus a box of books I've finished for my sister and brother-n-law who I'll be driving to the island with..they are presently in Noranda, Quebec and we will leave the first of May. I'm also packing some extra gardening tools, hoping I might have time to start some gardening this year. Probably all I'll manage is digging out the weeds around the rhubarb!

My sweet sister who nominated me for the "Sunshine" Award because my nickname for her is "Sunshine" has a list of questions that need to be answered and I need to nominate others for this reward..I call her "sunshine" as she was born when I was twelve and she was like a real live doll for me. I carried her everywhere, she brought such joy into my life. We don't live very close to each other, so I haven't seen her for over a year but a few years down the road we will both be living on the island..funny thing is, about the same distance apart that we live now..I'm in the East end.

Here are the questions:

1) What is my favorite color: If I had to live with only one color it would be's cheerful, perks me up and looks good with my grey hair..

2) My favorite animal: It would definitely be a dog. Years ago when my children were small we purchased our first poodle. After it passed on, we purchased an apricot one. My hubby likes larger dogs of course, so hope we find one to suit us both once we live permanently in P.E.I.

3) My favorite number: That would be a 4..I never had a fav. number for years, then I did this quiz and after I added this, subracted that, on and on, up came a four..let's hope it's lucky.

4) Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Wow, have to choose between coffee, Pepsi, Cream Soda, Welch's Grape Juice..that's hard, choose what I like or what's good for me..Beer! oh wrong answer, Pepsi..

5) Prefer Facebook or Twitter: neither, don't use either one..(and to my friends who want me to, don't hold your breath!)

6) What is my passion? That's so hard, in summer it's gardening and winter it's reading or watching movies. Okay, only one again. Reading, as I can't imagine life without doing it.

7) Prefer giving or receiving gifts. giving pleasure to others but also like receiving.

8)Favorite pattern: I like plaid but it makes me look too heavy, have a favorite paisley blouse I wear a lot but also love polka dots. Stripes going up and down are slimming. Only one..well, how about tweed.

9) Favorite day of the week: Fridays..Hubby and I have dated on Friday nights going on fifteen years. We usually eat out and often go dancing.

10) Favorite flower: Now that's very difficult. But I'm going to say pansies. I just purchased eight containers of them. Their colors are amazing. Purple looks like velvet and they always smile at me with their cute faces.

Now I must pass this "Sunshine" award on so I pass it on to: "That British Woman" , to my brother at "It Strikes Me Funny" and "The Witch's Island",  enjoy reading them all..

Hubby and I are so excited to start our 2nd huge renovation at our farm house, it's a lot of hard work, it's tiring and thrilling all at the same time. Bedtime comes really early, then up again full of energy to start the process all over again. Better get back to my packing, can't forget my work gloves, hammer and lots and lots of vitamins!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Can Be A Scaredy Cat in the Kitchen

If all one ever had to do was prepare raw vegetables, life in the kitchen would be so simple. My granddaughter Claire loves to try out big chunks of carrot on her four new teeth, two up and two down. She also enjoys grapes, blueberries, sweet potato, squash and chicken cut up into small pieces. She loves nearly everything her mother feeds her, she has a great appetite.

As I was preparing supper the other night for my husband and myself, I thought of how scared I used to be to make meals for company. I wasn't a child who followed my mother into the kitchen when she was making meals to see how it was done. I was more apt to be across the road from our house on the ball diamond playing a good game of baseball. As I grew older and started highschool I was still a big fan of playing or watching baseball. As each new school year came along so did more and more homework, so I'd often still be sitting at the dining-room table until eleven p.m. hitting the books. My interest in food was still what appeared lovingly prepared by my mother.

After I was married when visiting my new mother-in-law, I did start to show an interest in watching and learning what different foods she would prepare. I finally realized I needed to expand my knowledge in the kitchen. How to prepare good and varied meals so learning from my husbands mother seemed a good place to start.

My own mother made great filling meals, not fancy, not gourmet but we loved what she put before us. She also made wonderful desserts, again what most mother's made back then, apple, cherry, chocolate or butterscotch pies, chocolate cakes and various kinds of cookies..none of which lasted long. She made a wonderful elderberry pie because my father would drive out into the country and pick bushel baskets of them. We would all sit out on the back porch, pulling the little purple berries off the stems ending up with stained fingers. Well worth the effort.

So I learned plain cooking, how to cook a roast (usually too well done), make casseroles, roast chickens and turkeys and make a hundred different meals out of hamburger, or so it seemed. I asked my mother for recipes and started acquiring cooks books finding my favorites were put out by ladies from various area churches. They would make cookbooks for fund raisers so their recipes were tried and true. My church cookbooks are now stained many times over from much usage.

Growing up in a family of seven mother did not entertain overmuch. Feeding five hungry kids kept my mother busy without extra mouths lined up around our table. Usually company was our grandmother or the siblings of my parents. So when it came to entertaining I was not at ease, usually my company would be very close friends or my brothers and sisters.

To say I panic when confronted with people I don't know well would be very true. My son used to bring friends home from college, and friends from other countries. He had many Kurdish friends and I'd ask him: "What do they eat?" I have struggled for years trying new recipes to impress company instead of the same old ones.

I'd hate to tell you how long it took me to make quiche and surprised it was so easy. To shamefully say I still can't make a pan of fudge. Just this week I tried my first Tourtiere pie. It turned out pretty good but still needs work. I'm not good at experimenting with recipes, usually read them and stick to it. But my husband is slowly winning me over to taking chances and mix things up..

I keep cutting recipes out of magazines or buy the odd new recipe book but I find I keep going back to those same old recipes that have served me so well. It's hard for me to "be brave" and go out to buy a lot of new ingredients that I can hardly pronounce, to make some fantastic new dish.

My sister-in-law in P.E.I. where we are retiring in three or four more years is a terrific cook. She often plans big dinner parties as she loves entertaining, the more the merrier. I watch her a lot when we visit  and wish cooking came so easily to me. We always put on four or five pounds after a two or three week visit. Once I'm living out there I will follow many of her recipes, we will eat with them and then we will have them over to our place..Oh, my gosh, what will I cook them? How will I impress them when she is such an awesome cook?

I  guess I will just relax and tell my husband to fire up the b.b.q.  He is great cooking meals on the b.b.q., plus he really enjoys it. My in-laws don't tend to b.b.q. very often so it will be a real treat for them to have hubby's famous burgers or beer-butt chicken. Problem solved!