New Crops in Late Spring

hpim1377Canada’s breadbasket –  Southern Ontario shows the promise of the bounty to come with the springing up of corn and hay crops.

The first cut of hay is in progress. The corn is growing as you can see in the picture. The beans are up and the grain is high and waiting for sunshine to turn it golden. We had more rain than normal this Spring so the crops are later than normal. Today is the 2nd day of Summer and we have plenty of rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries and lettuce and raspberries are just beginning. Most farmers markets are open. We got beautiful produce and berries at the Grand Bend market on Wednesday. I have been busy making pies and crepes using our beautiful fresh berries. Yum. I will include some recipes in my next blog.

 

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March Rants

Twists and Turns in Life’s Journey

This last few years have presented many hardships for my wife and soulmate. In April of 2014 a motorist went through a red light and T-boned my wife’s car. She was seriously injured and had to go through many months of rehab. Last February 1st my wife suffered from a severe stroke and is still going through the rehabilitation and recovery process. I tell you this because I am a Canadian and have protection under the  federal/provincial plan that is available to all canadians regardless of race, religion, colour or financial worth.

I am writing this blog in the wake of the American election in which health care was an issue. Big business in America seems to take great satisfaction in spreading rumours and false statements about health care in Canada. It is of great benefit for large hospital chains, pharmaceutical companies, Insurance companies, health care practitioners and other participants in the American health business to maintain their status quo at the expense of the American people. Trump claims that he will scrap Obamacare but has yet to present a blueprint of what he will replace it with.

Countries like Canada, England, Holland, Sweden, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Denmark to name a few have a health care system that guarantees proper health treatment to all residents. The United States is conspicuously absent from this list.

Canada is looking to introduce a national pharmacare program which would lower the cost of prescription drugs in this country. Instead of each jurisdiction negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies we would benefit from the buying power of the entire country. See www.canadians.org and download report on pharmacare. We have suffered financial and social issues due to our unfortunate circumstances. My wife is confined to a wheelchair ind will continue to be an invalid in the near future. We have survived our fate mainly because of our health and other social systems that are in place to protect us and we are thankful to be Canadians.

Crepes

In my February blog I included my favorite crepe batter recipe. Crepes originated in the Brittany Region of France and can be enjoyed in all areas of that country. There are some creperies scattered around North America with larger numbers of them located i Quebec Canada and New Orleans. The crepe is very versatile. They come in two versions, Sweet and Savoury. Savoury is normally a entree while sweet are usually desserts. Savoury crepes are sometimes made with buckwheat flour although m my batter recipe can be used with either type. Some examples of savoury crepes fillings are chicken, egg, ham, mushrooms, bacon, ground beef or pork, fish, cheese, taco filling, asparagus and many more. A variety of sauces may accompany these fillings depending on your particular preferences. Sweet crepe fillings are any fruit, berry or combination of fruit and berries. Your favorite sauce can be used in a filling, spread over top or both. Whipped cream is also delicious on top or inside. Various fruit and berry sauces as well as chocolate and caramel are yummy. Experiment and enjoy the countless possibilities. You can find my recipe for Chicken Crepes below.

Chicken Crepes Supreme

Ingredients

7 tsbp butter

2 tbsp onion (finely chopped)

4 1/2 tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup half and half (cream)

3/8 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

1/4 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 pound mushrooms (sliced)

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

2 cups chicken cooked (cubed)

8 crepes

Method

In a medium saucepan melt 4 1/2 tbsp butter. Add onions and saute until tender.

Blend in flour and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and half and half. Cook, stirring until mixture comes to a boil and is smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, thyme and salt.

Add remaining butter to a saucepan, saute the mushrooms and stir in lemon juice.

Combine 2/3 of the sauce with chicken and mushrooms. The remaining sauce will be used to pour over the crepes. Fill the centre of the crepes with about 1/4 cup of chicken mixture, roll up and pour sauce over it. Enjoy

February Is Here

Here We Are in February

It is February already and we will soon have Winter on the run. According to Wiarton Willie our local Ground Hog we can expect an early Spring. Next week many of us will pay tribute to our loved ones with chocolate or flowers for Valentine’s Day. My soul mate and I have plans to overnight at the Historic Arlington Hotel in romantic Paris Ontario. Our suite overlooks the Grand River. It may not be The Seine but we will enjoy its splendour with the moonlight bouncing off its banks. My Sweetheart is taking me out for Dinner at the Stillwater a fine restaurant overlooking those same beautiful riverbanks. On the following day we will take a leisurely drive home. We intend to stop at Stratford and have lunch at an English Pub. Home before dark and a quiet evening to follow.

We can expect a few cold days and perhaps some snow before Winter waves goodbye to us. The first sign of Spring will be the opening of our Sugar bushes. My sources at the Fort Rose Maple Company tell me that they will be open for breakfast in the last week of this month. A veritable feast of pancakes, sausages, eggs, potatoes, muffins, juice along with plenty of fresh Maple Syrup flowing. We have all of this to look forward to this month. We are truly blessed to have so much to enjoy. I haven’t made pancakes for a long time so will have to look it up. I make crepes often and many Europeans consider them to be pancakes so I will give you that recipe for now.

REGULAR CREPE BATTER

Ingredients

2 large eggs

1/4 Tsp salt

2 cups flour

2 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup butter (melted)

Method

Combine eggs and salt – gradually add flour alternating with milk beating until smooth. Gently beat in melted butter.

Note! Over – beating will produce tough batter.

A Brand New Year

A Brand New Year

It is with a renewed hope for good things ahead that we face 2017. We have just been through 3 years of outrageously bad luck through no fault of our own. I will not explain the circumstance nor will I dwell on them. What I will do is move forward and enjoy a wonderful new year and many more to come. We try to make it a point to associate with successful and positive thinking people. I wish all of my loyal readers a health and prosperous 2017 loaded with crimson days and purple nights.

January is almost past and we have been blessed with a mild winter although a tad on the wet side. Here in Southern Ontario Spring is quickly approaching. We can still expect a few cold days and perhaps a snow storm or two but they will pass quickly. We had a fine feast of pierogies and cabbage rolls to celebrate Ukranian Christmas honouring my wife’s ancestry. Gung Hey Fat Choy to those of you celebrating Chinese New Year the year of the Rooster. I will be back soon with my thoughts and new recipes.

November Musings

I haven’t been writing for the past few weeks and so much has happened that I don’t know where to start. I have been busy putting up a 220 foot fence around my back yard. I also erected a metal garden shed which my wife gave to me for my birthday last month. We had a beautiful Canadian Thanksgiving with plenty of good food to be thankful for. The first of many events following Thanksgiving was the arrival of ghosts, goblins, Princes and Princesses when the local children visited our home in search of Halloween treats. I carved out pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns in order to guide the trick or treaters to our door. The next event of note was the World Series. The sentimental favourite Chicago Cubs went on to victory in this Fall Classic. America elected a new President this week. The Russians seem delighted with the outcome. Which brings us to this very special day. November 11th Remembrance Day. A time to salute our Veterans and pay our respects to all who gave their lives so we may enjoy our freedom. The event which was most important in my personal life was the addition to our family of a dog named Abby. She is a 9 year old Cocker Spaniel who needed a home because nobody wanted her. She now has a forever home.

Here are some pictures that you might enjoy. My Jack-O-lanternshpim1424hpim1425

Orchards and Pumpkin Patch

We went to the Juicy Fruit apple orchard and to the Twin Pines cider works to get some apples and pumpkins. We were amazed at the crowds of people that were out to stroll through the orchards and fields of pumpkins on a beautiful sunny afternoon. One could hardly call the acres of pumpkins a pumpkin patch. We got a large basket of mixed apples for $3.00 and 2 nice medium pumpkins for $6.00. We also purchase a jug of Twin Pines Original hard cider to enjoy at ou leisure. Our home is only 10 minutes from the orchards so it is a small outing for us but I suspect most of the crowds consisted of people from the nearby cities of London and Sarnia. We will be ready for Halloween with a pair of Jack-o-lanterns. I better brush up on my carving skills. The apples will make a nice snack and I plan to try a new recipe for apple pie. It is a apple, cheese and bacon pie recipe which I will borrow from Canadian Living magazine.The leaves are still brilliant in their Fall glory. I took this picture from my front porch and the other is at the Parkhill Conservation area 1/4 mile from our home. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful environment.

apple-cheese-bacon-pie-2our-pumpkins

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Autumn Leaves

hpim1406hpim1407The frost is coming soon and the sugar maple leaves are turning brilliant reds, yellows and orange. Tourists come from near and far to observe this amazing spectacle of nature. Another amazing addition to their visit is to partake of another Canadian phenomena. The delicious Butter Tart. I bake these for my guests and they come back for more of these fantastic pastries. Please find the recipe below.

 Pastry

INGREDIENTS

  1. 5 Cups all purpose flour

1 package (brick) Crisco golden shortening

1 egg

1/4 cup vinegar

water

 METHOD

In a large bowl blend shortening with flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or 2 forks.

In a measuring cup blend egg with vinegar and add water to make 1 cup of liquid.

Gradually add liquid to flour mixture blending with your hands until thoroughly mixed.

Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Now you are ready to make pies, tarts and much more.  Enjoy.

BUTTER TARTS

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup black currents or raisins

1/4 cup soft butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 egg lightly beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

1 Prepare muffin tins by rolling out pie dough and cutting 4 inch circles. Fit dough into muffin tins an set aside in the fridge until ready to fill

2 In a small bowl place currants and cover with hot tap water to soften for 30 minutes

3 In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the soft butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir well until butter is creamed.

4 Beat egg and vanilla then add to butter/syrup mixture and mix well

5 Drain currants and divide into tart shells

6 Using table spoon, add mixture to tart shells dividing equally.

Bake in 400f  oven for 15 to twenty minutes or slightly more for firm. Cool on rack.

Note! You may use walnuts or pecans instead of or in addition to currants or raisins

Canadian Thanksgiving

pumpkins

I live in Southwestern Ontario Canada which is located between the 42nd latitude and the 45th latitude. We are the bread basket of Canada because we grow abundant amounts of corn, hay, soy beans, vegetables and fruit and berries. You can find market gardens with fields of tomatoes, potatoes and other vegetables along side apple, peach, plumb and other orchards, vineyards and dairy farms. All of these within a 2 hour drive. Located amidst all of this you can find miles of sandy beaches on the largest fresh water lakes in the world. Needless to say. There is plenty of good fishing here.

Thanksgiving has arrived here in Canada. We celebrate it in the peak of harvest season in this country. Apples and grapes pumpkins and pears can be seen in abundance in many a farmer’s field. Families gather together to celebrate our good fortune in having this wonderful food readily available to fill our pantries and freezers. Our traditional meal consists of Turkey and ham, squash and Brussels sprouts accompanied by lots of turkey dressing and potatoes with gravy. Dessert is Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie with cheese or ice cream. Local Apple Cider and wines are pleasant additions to our feast. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

apples

The Bread Basket of Canada

corn-ready-for-harvest     

 

 

 

3 Photos taken in October just before harvest. The corn is 7 feet tall and the sunflowers are 5 feet tall. acres-of-sunflowers sunflowers-galorehpim1372  

“There are corn fields and wheat fields enough to grow.” (Jackie DeShannon)

Here are some pictures from June this Summer of 2016 that I hope you will enjoy.hpim1377hpim1371

The importance of corn in our lives is overlooked or down played by most people. Many producers of animal food make out corn to be a filler containing no nutritional value. Corn by- products can be and often are used in this manner. However, corn’s positive attributes far outweigh the negative. Let’s have a closer look at the many uses of corn that have a positive influence on our everyday lives.

The uses of corn are too numerous to document here but J will attempt provide you with a short list to give you a notion of the vast number of uses for corn.

  • Cooking oil and salad dressings and corn meal
  • Alcoholic beverages and industrial alcohol
  • ice cream, jam and soft drinks
  • food for livestock and poultry
  • glucose
  • ethanol
  • paper products
  • pharmaceuticals
  • adhesives and insecticides
  • soap

Southern Ontario produces thousands of acres of corn each year’ It is a very important crop to this region and the rest of the country.

Sweet corn is a different variety from industrial corn and is grown primarily for direct human consumption. You cook sweet corn by placing a small amount of water in a large pot and bring to boil. Shuck cobs of corn and  add to boiling water for 4 minutes. Remove corn and place on a large platter. Grab a cob and generously slather with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat the corn directly from the cob. YUM                                                  ALTERNATELY – You can leave the husks on the cobs and immerse them briefly in water.  Place them on hot grill or campfire and rotate 3 times(about 2 minutes each turn) Remove them from the fire and shuck them. Serve with butter, salt and pepper.  ENJOY