Monday, December 2, 2013

Minced Beef and Portobello Mushroom Pie

Dale and I were gifted a 1/4 of a cow for Christmas. So I needed a recipe to use it in.  It has become a little more difficult as I have found out I have a sensitivity to tomatoes.  So no more bolognase sauce or chilli or sloppy joes for me.  All of which are staples in our home. So I decided to become creative and came up with this recipe:

2lb Ground Beef
6-8 Portobello Mushrooms
1 Lg Onion
1 1/2 cups Wine (red or white would work fine)
4 cups Beef Broth
1 1/2 tbsp Corn or Potato Starch
10 fresh Sage Leaves
10 sprigs of Fresh Thyme (leaves only)
1 1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Salt
10 medium Sized Potatoes
2 lg Cloves of Garlic

Cook up your ground beef in a skillet being carful not to brown. Remove beef and drain off any excess fat.

Wipe clean mushrooms with a damp papertowel.  Cut Portabello mushrooms into 1/2 inch cubes and begin to fry in the same skillet.  Once mushrooms have begin to soften add your onion.

Once both mushrooms and onion are soft but not overly brown deglaze your pan with the wine.

Add 3 cups of the broth, reserving the last cup to mix with the corn or potato starch.  Combine and add to skillet.

Add beef back to pan along with sage, thyme, pepper and salt.  Bring liquid to a boil so that it can thicken then turn back to summer for 5 minutes.  Add garlic in when you turn it down to simmer.  This allows for a fresher garlic taste in the finished product. Taste mixture and add more salt or pepper to taste.

You may add Peas or frozen vegetables of any kind to make this a balanced meal.  I served mine with a salad.

Add mixture to a deep casserole dish or cast iron pot.

Slice potatoes evenly.  I use a mandolin to achieve even slices.   Add to a pot of water and boil until potatoes begin to soften.  Drain and place potatoes in even layers over the beef mixture.

Freeze for a later date or place in oven for 45 minutes at 350 uncovered.  Turn on broiler for last couple of minutes to crisp up the potatoes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Homemade Baby Bum Wash

In our household we cloth diaper.  There are many benefits and reasons why we choose to cloth diaper.  One of these reasons is to reduce waste in landfills and be good stewards of the earth.  One of the other ways we cut back on waste is by not buying wipes.

When my first daughter was born I was gifted practically a million wash cloths.  OK, so there weren't a million but there were a lot!  I took all the thin baby cloths and decided to use them to wipe the girls bums.  I then throw them in the diaper pail and they get washed with the diapers.  I make a solution in large batches and keep it under the change table to make diaper changes easy.

This is how I make it:

4 Cups Water (Filtered)
2 Tbsp Vegetable Glycerine 
3 Tbsp Castile Soap
10 Drops Lavender
10 Drops Tea Tree Oil

This is much nicer on her bum than the chemical ladened wipes from the store.  I can use it to 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Milk Painted Dresser (Shutter Grey)

Here is my newest piece!  I need to first and foremost thank my hubby for feeding my addiction by finding this dresser on the side of the road for me.  He saw it while biking home, came home right away and went with me to pick it up.  Love you Dale!!! My favourite is the beautiful moulding around the two smaller drawers.  I also love the legs and lovely scalloped edge on the bottom.

Anyways, I have decided that I want to get more comfortable with using milk paint.  I have never used the bonding agent  before and wanted to see if I liked the coverage and sandability for distressing.  I learned a few things while doing this piece.  But my lack of experience made for a really neat crackled look to the piece.

I started off with two coats of Miss Mustard Seed Iron Stone Milk Paint.  I was not happy with the coverage and needed another coat but had run out of Iron Stone.  The lack of coverage was due to the fact that my paint was not mixed fully.  There was a bunch in the bottom of the cup.  This is when Dale ran to
Value Village for me in search of an old blender.  He came home with an $8 hand blender.

This worked a charm with the MMS Shutter Grey.  I would always recommend using a blender when mixing milk paint.  I watched the tutorials on:

where Miss Mustard Seed recommended mixing by hand so that you can feel the consistency of the paint. I have mixed by hand several times now and mixed by blender once.  Blender is definitely the way to go.

I was also very impressed with how easy it was to distress this piece.  I used fine grit sandpaper and went over all the edges by hand.  I did not want to take away from the details of this piece by heavily distressing it.  So, I kept it simple.  I then sealed it with Miss Mustard Seed Wax.  The wax really deepens the colour and richens up the look of the piece.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and are inspired to try a piece of your own.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Did you know you can make your own baking powder?

So how did I find this out you ask?  I was home alone with the girls this evening and wanted to make some "clean eating pumpkin bread" for a coffee date I am having tomorrow, but remembered I was out of baking powder...

So I thought to myself,  Dale can stop at the 24 hour Sobeys on the way home and grab some. I will get everything ready and bake the bread in the morning.  As I was messaging Dale and sending him a link of the aluminum free brand I use, I found this:

So, I made some.  And my bread rose better than the last time I made it!  It was only baking soda and cream of tartar.  Both of which many people have on hand.  So next time you are in a pinch or want to reduce your exposure to aluminum make your own.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brockelbank Sisters Imitation Harvey's Dill Pickles Recipe

Two years ago Crystal and I embarked on a journey to can everything we could, to reduce our exposure to BPA and Pesticide residues.  There was something exciting about canning produce and knowing exactly what is in the jar.  No unpronounceable additives. Also, picking the freshest produce creates a wonderful flavour you cannot get with store bought jars.

This turned into a lot of work! Especially since we canned, JalapeƱos, Peach Salsa, Tomato Salsa, Pickled Green Beans, Diced Tomatoes, Dill Pickles and Pumpkin.  Canning our own food quite frankly became an addiction.  It is a good thing that Crystal kept talking me into going to the marked and just doing one more half bushel of pickles.  Because the following year there was a newborn in the house and no canning got done.

We must have lucked out because our dill pickles were a huge hit!  We believed that they rivaled Harvey's Hamburger pickles, which are famous in our family.  We had never done pickles before but looked up a bunch of recipes online and came up with this:

What you Need:

1/2     Bushel Pickling Cucumbers
3.5     Red Peppers (chopped finely)
3        Bunches Dill Weed
2 lg    Heads Garlic
1.5     Bags Chilli Pepper Flakes
5 3/4  Cups White Vinegar
1 1/2  Cups Pickling Salt
22      Cups Water

20      Quart Jars (Widemouth are the easiest to stuff)

Now What???

1. Sterilize all your jars in the dishwasher or boil for 10 minutes.  Dishwasher is way easier and can be done while you sleep the night before pickling.

2. Decide how you would like your pickles cut or if at all.  Do the cutting.  Using a mandolin can make for quick, even slicing especially with larger pickles.  Hint: Larger Cucumbers require some slicing but are usually cheaper.

3.  Line up the Jars and add to each Jar:

2 tsp Chili Flakes
2/3 of an extra large garlic clove or 1 average size cut in half
2 tbsp Chopped Red Pepper
2 Heads of Dill Weed along with some stalk

4.  Stuff cucumbers in Jars so that they are packed tightly.  Do not allow pickles to rise above neck of jar as this would impede the canning process.

5. Add vinegar, salt and water to a large pot and bring to a boil.  

6.  Add Snap Lids to a pot of water and boil for 5 minutes.

7. Pour the hot brine over jars of pickles leaving a 1/2" head space.

8.  Remove a lid carefully and place on top of jar without contaminating the inside.  Screw ring on firmly but not too tightly.  As it will allow air to escape during processing.  But you want the ring tight enough that the lid is held firmly in place.

9.  Add jars to canner and fill water until it reaches the bottom of the jar necks.  

10.  Bring water almost to a boil and remove jars.
11.  You must empty the canner and add cool water before processing your next batch of pickles.  This will prevent breakage of jars as well as keep your pickles crisp.

12.  Adding brine just before processing will also help keep pickles crisp.  As they will not have to be heated twice: once by the brine and second time by processing.

Let your pickles sit for 8 weeks and Enjoy!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Waxed Paint Cedar Chest

This is my $30 Cedar Chest I found on kijiji.  It is a little dated with the hardware and 70's legs.  When I went to look at this piece I had no idea where it was going to go.  But I felt as though I could not give up a $30 Cedar Chest.  As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to put it at the foot of my bed. 

I am looking forward to finally decorating my bedroom.  We have been in this house for 5 years.  Two children later, and still the bedroom has nothing on the wall (except a tv).  I will be painting my bedroom set which is an old set of my parents from when they got married.  This cedar chest will be perfect for the end of the bed.

I love the two sets of drawers down either side.  It will be perfect for storage of small games.  This will free up some room in the top of our closet.

The top of the chest also locks.  It used a key at one time.  but now turns by hand.  

 I replaced the hideous legs that came with it, with fineals from a fencepost.  They cost me $3 per leg instead of a whopping $17 per leg at the hardware store.  I found them at the liquidation store.  And of coures trusty old Poppy installed them for me.

I then got him to stain them.  Then when I distress them dark wood will show through instead of raw wood.

He also touched up the edges where some wear and tear were showing through.

Here it is doors removed and ready to paint!

I decided to try a waxed paint technique as taught by Annie Sloan.  I got the inspiration from this post:

I did not take pictures of the steps following.  I am sorry!!! I am still getting used to documenting for the blog.  But I painted the entire chest with two coats of my homemade chalk paint in brushwood by Glidden.  I then waxed the piece small bits at a time to prevent the wax from drying before white washing.  I was not real scientific with my wash.  But I used about 2/3 cup of paint and 1 tablespoon of water.  The paint in the wash was homemade chalk paint in Beautitone Goat Cheese.  You want your wash to be thin. 

I decided to start at the top of my piece and then move downward with the wash being carful not to slop on areas I was not working with.  I used a cloth to apply the wax then brushed on the wash.  The wash beaded against the wax.  I rubbed it off with an old cotton t-shirt.  I made sure to do it in long even strokes starting at one end and rubbing right off the other side to prevent uneven lines.  Once the white wash was dry I sealed it with an all over coat of Miss Mustard Seed Dark Wax.

I love the way it looks!  It reminds me of old barn boards.  This is a picture before I added the last coat of dark wax.

Here is the completed project:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homemade Coconut Milk Infant Formula

First off I would like to say that I am sharing with you my experience with two daughters that struggle with dairy allergies.  I have no background in nutrition or medicine.  So, please check with a holistic nutritionist or naturopath before starting a new diet with your infant.

I feel like I want to share this with everyone because it has changed our life so much!  When my second daughter was born I was sure that breastfeeding was going to go well.  I had difficulty with my first daughter and was only able to breastfeed 1/2 time for 7.5 months.  This time I was determined to do everything to make it work!  I fed on demand, even though she was screaming for food a mere 20 minutes after breastfeeding, I pumped in between feeds, I took Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek and Domperidone. I was told over and over again by moms and professionals, the more you take the more you make.

However, in my case, that was not true.  I have  condition called Mammary Hypoplasia.  In a nutshell, I do not have sufficient glandular tissue to hold enough milk to give my baby a full feed.  Therefore, my body is producing as much milk as it can hold.  But that storage is not big enough to satisfy my 9.5lb babies.  If you have struggled with breastfeeding and would like information on this condition please refer to the below link for information:

So, I had to supplement my daughter within her first days after birth and was not able to breastfeed full time.  I had come to terms with that when around 4.5 months old I noticed an intestinal bleed.  She had also struggled with eczema from birth and was a terribly fussy baby, often waking 3-4 times a night.  The family doctor told us that it was a dairy allergy.  The proteins in the milk were causing damage to the intestines.  I did not want to put my daughter on soy formula due to the phytoestrogens and she would not take the hypoallergenic formula (due to the sour taste).  So the family doctor told me I would have to keep her on the dairy formula.

It was then that I was determined to find a better answer.  My daughters intestines were bleeding and I should just keep on doing what I am doing???  I made an appointment with a local naturopath and described my plight to him.  I also explained to him that I did not want to go on soy formula.  It was then that his receptionist found a rice milk based infant formula recipe from this blog:

There is a ton of information posted in the comments section of the blog.  So the naturopath sent us on our way to make our own formula.  I chose to use coconut milk.  I feel it has a pleasanter taste than rice milk.  It also has some healthy fats.  Here is what we do as adapted from Jenn Pike's Blog:

4 cups Coconut Milk (So Delishious)
2 tbsp Brown Rice Protien (Heartland Organics)
1 tbsp Molasses (Wholesome Foods)
2 tsp Pediatrivite (Genestra)
4 Scoops Infant Probiotic (Genestra)
2 tbsp Flax seed oil
400 Iu Vitamin D

Within 2 days my 5 month old was able to sit happily playing on the floor for 45 minutes instead of her usual 5 minutes.  She also began waking once a night and eventually slept through the night.  My daughter did a complete 180.  She went from pooping once every 3 days to pooping 3 times a day.  She is now 1 year old and growing like a bad weed.  I am so thankful for this recipe.  It made the latter half of our first year one to enjoy.  Instead of sleep deprived and completely frazzled I have fond memories of our first year together.  I cannot express what a difference this made in our life.

I love that this formula has whole foods in it.  There are no ingredients in it that I cannot pronounce. If I knew about this the first time around my older daughter would have been on it as well.  If we have any future children they will also be on this formula, allergies or not.

If you are in the Waterloo Region of Ontario you can consult with Dr. Dronyk ND of the Dronyk Clinic: