05
Feb 16

Giving up organic milk

I have wavered back and forth on the organic milk issue for years. For the most part, I did not buy organic milk because the cost is more than twice that of regular milk. But in the last few months of 2015, I switched the family over to a more organic based diet and that included organic milk. And wowzers! Did my grocery budget scream in pain. With four growing children and two grown men in the house, the milk consumption, at times, is unreal and as we rolled into 2016 with the increasing food prices, I have had to re-evaluate my choices somewhat.

Yesterday afternoon, I was speaking with a friend, who feeds her young family more organically than I, and she said that she has never bothered with organic milk in Canada because regulations in Ontario dictate that our dairy farmers are not permitted to give our bodicious Ontarian bovines hormones or antibiotics. If medications are necessary then the cow in question is removed from the production line for a period of time until an ‘all clear’ sample is obtained. Hmmmmm. This makes a difference in my assessment of the situation (and may make a BIG difference to my grocery budget).

So much of the information we receive is American, where they have different laws and food safety standards. Here in Ontario, there is a wealth of information available on the Dairy Farmers of Ontario website. Links to provincial regulations, standards and farming-related issues are published for all to read.

A few things to keep in mind, when deciding if you’re going to purchase regular or organic milk (at least in Ontario), are:

1. Milk is the most heavily safety-tested food in the Canadian food supply system. Ontario dairy farms are inspected regularly under Dairy Farmers of Ontario Raw Milk Quality Program to ensure that Ontario milk meets provincial standards. Inspectors ensure that all surfaces and equipment are clean and that milk is cooled efficiently. Inspectors also look for Grade A management practices such as good cow housing, sufficient pasture area and exclusion of milk from cows that are being treated for illness with drugs or antibiotics. (DFofON website)

and:

Other jurisdictions permit the use of synthetic hormones to meet market needs [which is not allowed under Canadian regulations]. Instead, Ontario’s dairy system meets the highest safety and quality standards in the world, while ensuring farmers can reinvest in safety to produce efficient, high-quality dairy products that other dairy systems simply do not provide. (DFofON website)

and finally:

In dairy farming, medication is only used if it is required to treat a specific illness. When dairy animals become ill, the problem is diagnosed and, with the help of a veterinarian, a treatment program is established. Her milk is discarded since it is illegal to sell or offer for sale any milk that contains antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals, and she is milked separately from the rest of the herd until she has complied with strict withdrawal periods for her specific medication.

In Canada, there is a stringent dairy inspection program in place to test milk. Samples are taken at each farm for quality and composition. As well, each truckload is tested for antibiotics at the dairy. Any milk that does not pass the test is discarded immediately and any producer whose milk is found to contain antibiotics faces heavy financial penalties. (Facts and Figures on the DFofON website)

So, right now (and this could change tomorrow because – over thinking issues and then changing my mind is my speciality) I am going to return to buying regular Ontario produced milk, bypass the organic milk option and expense and not purchase (the much less expensive) milk next time we grocery shop in the U.S.

Just a little love note my Paxton gave me last year. Seeming a fitting addition to this post 😜

Just a little love note my Paxton gave me last year. Seems a fitting addition to this post 😜


09
Jan 16

Whole Wheat and Honey Sandwich Bread – Recipe

This past holiday season, I rediscovered my passion for baking bread and NOT spending money on chemical-laden, mass-produced, over-priced bread at the grocery store. So, in a nutshell, I rediscovered my intense carb-addition and my frugal grooviness at the same time, and I found them both at Wal-Mart. That place really does have everything. Um, or maybe not.

Anyway, I have not taken step-by-step pictures of this recipe, but it’s pretty straight forward and forgiving (I mean, it forgives me constantly), so we should be good to go with just the recipe, straight up. I’ll do my best to answer any questions that come up though, just leave your question in the comments. 🤓 I will tell you that I do all of my mixing and most of my kneading using my KitchenAid stand mixer and dough hook. I’m just a wimp that way. Also, I do not have a record of where I first found this recipe, but I’ve changed it a bit here and there over time to make it work better for me.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

Whole Wheat and Honey Sandwich Bread (makes 2 scrumptious loaves)

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups of warm water (110 – 115F)
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled (can substitute coconut or other oil for the butter)
4 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp yeast (or two of those little packages of yeast, which makes 1Tbsp + 1/2tsp)
2 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste, but do leave some salt in the recipe, the yeast needs it)
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (give or take).

Directions:

  1. Combine one cup of the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast and salt into the bowl of a mixer.
  2. Add warm water, honey and butter/oil. Mix on low-speed until combined. The on medium speed for about three minutes.
  3. Add the remaining two cups of whole wheat flour and the all-purpose flour (a cup at a time) and mix, using your dough hook attachment, until the dough is no longer sticky – when it comes away from the sides of the bowl cleanly, you’re good. Knead in the mixer until smooth and elastic – about five minutes or so.
  4. Take out the dough hook and cover the dough, in the bowl with a damp tea towel. Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes (an hour if your house, like mine, is chilly).
  5. Punch the dough down, divide it in half and roll each half out into a rectangular shape. Roll each half of the dough up and place in a well-greased 9×5 inch bread pan. Rolling the dough will give your bread a nicer crumb, better structure and make your loaves look purty.
  6. Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel (again) and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes (or 45 minutes in a chilly place), or until doubled.
  7. Bake in your preheated (because you read ahead – aha!) oven (350F) for 30 minutes. Since tapping the bottom of loaves baking in a bread pan is cumbersome and dare I say it, impossible, you could use an instant read thermometer into the long side of the loaves. Fully baked bread should be 205F. Turn out of the pans and cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve!
Freshly sliced bread. This is only half a loaf though, since the other half was quickly and savagely consumed.

Freshly sliced bread. This is only half a loaf though, since the other half was quickly and savagely consumed.

P.S. My spellcheck is acting up again. I’m not entirely sure why, but it wants you to use a ‘doe hook’ to mix your bread. But I said, “No way, screw you, Spellcheck. We are NOT using a ‘doe hook’ on this blog. Not today!” So now I’m not sure if my spellcheck is a carb hater or an animal hater, but either way, it looks like I will need to remain vigilant about monitoring any and all changes and dropping the hammer liberally on the pro-offered suggestions. Never trust your spellcheck. I’m fairly certain it’s just out to get you and will mess up everything you type. Probably on purpose.

~A.


03
Jan 16

I am a little bit obsessed (or is that possessed?). Again.

I’m obsessed with way too many things, and unfortunately almost none of them are things that will make me skinny, rich or admired by millions. But obsessed I am, nonetheless. Today, my obsession is back in full force for homemade bread – the good kind, not the quicky no-knead bread (which is very tasty, don’t get me wrong, but is lacking in fibre and other nutrients due to its white flour base).

I find that there are so many things that I want to do, try, make, eat, wear, write, or otherwise experience that I get overwhelmed and default to doing nothing more than my ordinary necessary-to-keep-body-and-soul-together tasks. But then thankfully something always happens that kicks me in the teeth and spurs me into action again. This time, I simply went grocery shopping (ordinary and necessary) and while reaching for yet another loaf of bread to toss into the shopping cart, I realized that I was feeling quite annoyed at the thought of having to spend money on bread. Knowing that one store-bought loaf lasts exactly one day around here if everyone here has a sandwich for lunch or toast for breakfast. And on sale, the best I can do for a healthier bread is $2.00 a loaf which can easily translate into over $10 a week for bread alone and this is while 4/5 of my kids are still aged 11 and under. 😳

And then my synapses woke with a start and began to fire on all cylinders. I quickly did the math and decided that I really do not want to spend over $500 a year on bread (and that is only for sandwich bread and does not include buns, rolls, english muffins, bagels, etc.) when I have everything that I need, including the ability, to bake quite lovely loaves at home with only the tiniest amount of commitment. So that is what I did. I baked bread. Twice now in the past two weeks. And I must admit, I have no regrets.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

And that, my friends, is how I live my crazy life just barely clinging to the edge of law and order. It is how I stay adventurous and just that little bit too fluffy and curvy in all the right places. Frugality and baked goods. Now you know my secret.

If anyone wants the recipe, I can totally post it. I bake it in the oven, but I’m sure it could work in a bread machine as well?

So far, this whole 2016 thing is off to a smashing start. I just refuse to be tamed, apparently. 😏


25
Oct 15

The results of my 30-day spending freeze

Are not so much good. But I did learn some things over the past 30 days that have been helpful and I can use to re-evaluate my budget and spending.

I realized that the only way our family functions without accumulating debt is largely due to:

1) Mr. KB’s amazing talent of being able to fix anything and everything for a fraction of the price of hiring the job out or buying a new beebob;

2) My constant awareness and ability to plan for and predict future needs for our family and, for the most part, have provisions in place to cover these needs;

3) Stockpiling food and other consumables through price-matching, couponing and attention to detail (even though this means that I make the actual shopping trip(s) less about fun and more about function);

4) Ensuring that I maintain separate budget lines and accounts to cover most expenditures – both expected and unexpected, large and small. My one oversight, I have learned was not having a new-to-us car fund started to buy a replacement daily driver. Getting on this now so maybe when the need arises (as we expect it to in the near future), there will be some money available to help fund the purchase.

5) Our combined efforts to make purchasing decisions based on function and price/cost rather than impulse and glitter.

We are so fortunate that we can largely be a one-income household (because can you believe that no one is paying me to write? No, really. I can’t believe it either. Gaw.) Our combined contributions and talents make this possible and while we don’t pack up the family for a week in the Caribbean or Disneyland every winter, we do have family vacations, go to movies, go out for dinner, the kids participate in school pizza days, we hit at least one town fair a year, have swimming and dance lessons, take in a couple of big Rogers Centre events a year, and summers include cruise nights and beach days. And we do it all without racking up expensive, soul-crushing, consumer debt. We use credit cards for the points, gas discounts or other freebies and never carry a balance. If Murphy has been a particularly big bastard, I cut back in other areas to make up the difference without tapping into credit.

These past thirty days have not been the big money-saving adventure that I envisioned it would be. But, staying aware of our family spending and making sure that I’m creating balance, between saving and shopping has been useful. Did I follow all of my original parameters? No. I didn’t. When I find flip-flops for the kids at 75% off, spending 25% of the money now, rather than 100% of the money next summer just makes sense for the way our family and budget works.

Luckily though in terms of reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ I did quite well this past month. We tossed and donated a lot of clothing, household goods and toys. We still have more to go through, but we made a great start at it. Was I sad to say good-bye to some of the clothing that I’ve been hanging on to for ‘one day’? Yes, but the lightness I felt seeing my newly tidied closet and easily closing drawers more than made up for those sad feelings.

The next 30 days, I’m going to work on continuing to reduce our ‘stuff’ Broken or outgrown toys need to go, VHS tapes that no longer play need to go, outgrown clothing needs to go. With this many people in a house, hanging on to every single thing is not reasonable or plausible. I’m all for fame and fortune but the last place that I need to find that fame is on an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive” :(


26
Sep 15

Another day, another self-inflicted challenge designed to increase my awesomeness. Or to reduce my already limited sanity. Same thing.

I know. It sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Increase my awesomeness? Reduce my sanity? It just cannot be done. I hear you, I do. But stay with me on this one, just for a minute.

Ha! I jest because I’m a fool. But it is another day. And I have decided to challenge myself to do something for the next 30 days. But it has nothing to do with my awesomeness (or lack thereof). No. This challenge has a few objectives, but mainly:

  1. To slow the rate of speed at which things (stuff, crap, treasures of little to no value) accumulate in our home;
  2. To use or re-purpose items we already own rather than introduce something else into our space, and to widdle down our current stockpile without adding to it;
  3. To save money;
  4. To follow through with an initiative that I decide to start (other than marriage, kids, work, etc) for longer than two weeks. I’m committing to 30 days initially, and then will re-evaluate to see what’s working, what hurts, what I need to change and what I need to continue going forward;
  5. To prove (to myself) that I can stay on task and on point when it comes to something not terribly fun but still important.

The challenge? No shopping. The only exceptions are: groceries (within budget only), prescriptions (if needed), back-to-school or seasonal clothing or shoes to fill in the gaps that their constant growing has created in the kids’ wardrobes (I have an abundance of ‘nothing to wear’ in about eight sizes, so I shall survive no matter what the weather throws at me). Also excluded from the spending freeze are items NEEDED to repair the house when I break it (as happens a little far too often). Other than those exceptions – no shopping. No picking up that clearance tee-shirt, cute picture frame or that awesome Hello Kitty notebook. No toys, no clothing, or knick knacks or kitchen stuffs. No electronics or entertainment. If it costs money and is a tangible doo-dad – it’s a no go for this chica for the next 30 days. Now, in the interest of fairness, I am going to have to host a birthday party for two my boys during these thirty days, but I have that cash set aside and it should not result in any non-consumables coming into our home.

Believe me, I would love to make the challenge longer, but I’m a chicken-shit at heart and while I feel fairly confident that I can pull this off for 30 days, the thought of trying, at least at this moment, much longer than that makes me feel nauseous and anxious. So, in the spirit of being a bit more gentle on my pathetic, wimpy self, I’ve decided to start with 30 days and go from there.

It will take better planning on my part, a little more creativity, and a lot of willpower to stick with only the necessities and not load up on the ‘deals.’ I’ll just need to remind myself often that the deals will still be there in thirty days. And then sob like a baby when that amazing hair conditioner never goes on clearance again and I missed my last chance to get it for nearly free (with a coupon!). But I’ll recover. It’s what I do.

This challenge is to begin on Saturday, September 26th and finish on Monday, October 26th. I will document just how many times I struggle to stay on track and how it is making me FEEL to not spend, to miss a deal, to have to leave something behind, to have to let a coupon expire, unused. Because I suspect that I am using accumulating things to avoid dealing with my FEELINGS. Because dealing with feelings is no fun and buying five bottles of dish soap for next to nothing is SO much fun.

And so let the adventure begin.

 


27
Feb 15

My week of food – a pictorial post

Every night this week I have Epicurized our dinners and the results have been very well received. But instead of reading my blah, blah, blahs, I’ll just post the pictures that I’ve been sharing on Instagram and Facebook, and a few that I didn’t share anywhere else at all. 😉

Monday

imageUsing Epicure’s Chicken Bouillon and the Three Onion Dip Mix to jazz it up.

Tuesday

IMG_2878.JPGThe picture says it all. I wish I had a picture of my kids inhaling dinner that night though!

Wednesday

imageI hear you, I do. You’re all like “What the holy Hell is that?” Well, I’ll tell you what it is. It is cabbage roll casserole (without the complicated cabbage rolling part but with tonnes of deliciousness). If anyone wants the recipe, I’ll be posting it later this week maybe? For now I’ll just say that it is a gluten-free friendly meal that appeals to gluten-free and gluten-full people alike 😉 Epicure’s contribution to this meal? The fabulous Italian Salad Dressing mix – used it dry, saved a ton of fat and calories by not using salad dressing (needed to save those calories for the cheese – shhhh!)

Thursday

imageNot Epicure’d but rather to prove a point about how we’re feeding our children and making up bullshit self-serving excuses why. I posted this picture on Instagram with the following blurb:
This is our after school snack around here. Total cost? $1.57 and a little bit of prep time. Number of kids happily munching away on REAL food? Six. No chemicals, no added sugar, no hormones, just fresh fruits and veggies. Now, if it were a party, I’d probably be mixing up a batch of Greek yogurt Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix for an extra special treat, but honestly? The kids are thrilled with their snack just the way it is. #DontTellMeYouCantAffordHealthyFood #CheaperThanOneSmallBagOfChips #thekeswickblog #Epicure #RealFoodGrowsHealthyKids #FrugalEating #CheapEats”

Thursday Dinner

IMG_2892.JPG

Friday – Pizza Game Strong

imageSo, that’s been my week in food. It’s been a pretty stupendous week, from a food perspective anyway. :)

And now, here are all the other places to find me (when I’m not hiding under my bed or behind my kids) come and hang out with me at:
Facebook 1  Facebook 2  Instagram  Twitter  Pinterest

Epicure Consultant Site

Have a wonderful weekend, remember to wear clean socks and underwear, and never leave home without an emergency toothbrush, toothpaste, mascara and lip gloss in your purse. No matter what happens, with those few things in hand, you’ll have the world by the ‘nads. You know, like MacGyver but prettier and with whiter teeth. 😉

 

 

 


01
Dec 14

Dear L.L. Bean, I am sad. And it is your fault. Again.

llbean

Dear L.L. Bean.

I am a long-time admirer of your store. Since childhood I have coveted your monogrammed backpacks, warm sweaters and sassy summer fare. And as a child, you knew nothing of me. Just another Canadian kid with the L.L. Bean dream. But I knew of you and I would, on occasion receive a Christmas gift from one of our American relatives, purchased from your store and wowie wow wow, was I the Queen of the street in those years.

But alas, I am no longer a child. And my relatives no longer send me your lovely goods. And I am no longer Queen of the street.  As an adult (apparently, that’s what I am now) I have some buying power in my own right. And I have exercised that power and purchased online, from your very enticing website on a few occasions in past years. With the promise of free shipping and 10% discounts and the possibility of having my coveted L.L. Bean merchandise in my own home, I purchased. And each and every time, it cost me an arm and a leg. But this year, this year is the last year that I will (almost) fall for your shenanigans.

So this week, here I sit. Another Christmas season is upon me and your emails are flooding my Outlook inbox daily. Your offers of discounts, bonus gift cards, free shipping, and more dance before my eyes, more appealing than the Magic Mike dancers and more palatable than my beloved Snickers bar. So I fall for your sweet words again and I click on your latest link.

And in no time at all, I am adding an ultrasoft this and a Scotch Plaid that and one of those scoopneck whatsits, those tights and that tote to my online cart, while remaining mindful of how my credit card company will violate me with their criminal surcharges and inflated exchange rates. But the promise of FREE SHIPPING repeats in my mind and soothes the impeding sting of my credit card’s slap.

I too quickly reach my spending limit. I have some lovely gifts for others and maybe something for myself in that light-as-a-feather shopping cart you have so helpfully provided to me. I check it twice (it is Christmas after all) and I gingerly click the ‘checkout’ button. I enter my login, and yes, I’ll have a chance to review the order before it is submitted. Yes, I understand that.

I scroll through my order (sounds longer than it really is, but I scroll slowly, so it feels longer than it really is too). I look to the right of my screen, where the charges are laid out and there it is – 10% discount code applied! Shipping $0.00! Yay! I’m so happy, your products are within reach. I can almost feel the fabric of softest flannel shirt in my hands. I hate to pay shipping and it is always grossly over-inflated and who can help but love a discount code? But my list of charges doesn’t end there, does it? No, L.L. (may I call you L.L.?) You know that the list does not end there at all. HST? Duty? What the what? No. No. NO!

I do not want you to collect HST and duty for my government. I would prefer to pay it directly to the CRA myself, at the post office when I pick up the package (for Canada Post will not deliver it to my door anyway). And, in all honesty, I do not believe that all of the items that I am (trying, well, begging really) to purchase are privy to duty charges. NAFTA, maybe? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that having the HST and duty come to more than 35% of the total charges, and having to pay them, at a premium in US funds at higher than bank rates just made the entire order outside of my financial grasp.**

So I close the browser window. I close my laptop. I walk away from my desk feeling so sad, disappointed and unfulfilled. My family will not get to experience the joys of L.L. Bean monogrammed backpacks, most excellent gadgets, beautifully soft and well made linens. And that makes me sad. So very, very sad.

Yours truly,
A.B.
The Keswick Blogger – wife, mother, and 2014 unfulfilled L.L. Bean so-badly-wanna-be customer.

P.S. I think that I should get brownie points for this letter. I did not swear, curse or use a single inappropriate word. Not even once. I think that alone should earn me a break on all of those charges. I mean honestly, take a look at the rest of this blog, this place is riddled with profanity and inappropriate use of the English language. Wouldn’t you agree?

P.P.S. Despite it all, I still love you. I can’t help myself. xoxo

P.P.P.S. I’m sorry if my letter was mean. Please don’t ban me from your website or your Albany store. xo

Mostly a true story.

Mostly a true story.

** In the name of full disclosure and clarity, the subtotal for my most recent order was for four items and the subtotal was going to be $85.43 USD – ‘you have saved $39.37’ between ‘on sale’ items and the 10% discount code, free shipping. Duty and HST was going to be $29.45 USD or 34.5% of the total order price :(  My credit card would have been charged $114.88 USD.
a.

 


12
Aug 14

My garden is possessed and not in a good way

It occurs to me that possession, or being possessed is generally considered to be a big, gaping negative. But, had I happened to be writing a blog post sharing what a killer year that I was having in the garden and was positively drowning in vegetable booty, I would very likely be using the term or idea of possession as well. To me, this indicates that in my twisty world, possession isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be lovely and good or wicked and bad. Except for possession of or by drugs or weapons – those possession are ugly assholes and will get a sist’a locked up, so we don’t go there. This is not that blog, yes?

Right then. Moving right along, I will be the first to admit that I am not a natural-born gardener. Real interest really only sparked for me sometime over the past five years. Prior to that, I could kinda-sorta keep a house plant alive (mostly), and I have photographic proof that I planted some veggies a few times with Declan when he was small (I’ll dig out that proof if need be), but really, I was not what anyone would call a get-her-hands-dirty kind of girl and just bought whatever we wanted at the store.

But I have a little bit changed my tune on that and get a kick out of walking outside and plucking a tomato off the vine or yanking an onion out of the ground, chopping it up and serving it for dinner that night. In fact, I now look forward to planting my garden every Spring and preserving my excess bounty in the Fall (together with purchased and found apples, pears, onions and tomatoes, of course!). This year, because we had such a LONG winter and Spring didn’t really show up, I kept my garden goals reasonable, my expectations nice and low and decided to go with ‘sure things.’ Well, this rational road I travelled turned into one hoofing kick to the ovaries.

As luck would have it, for the first time EVER, and probably in the history of forever, my go-to, ultimate sure thing, zucchini, is failing on a grand and fabulous scale. So many huge, yellow, horn-like flowers, a few false starts and then NOTHING. Tiny zucchini shrivel up and die and fall off the plant, unfinished. Combine that amazing luck with some kind of tomato plant-eating disease, a chipmunk who has decided that what’s mine is his, and so ‘samples’ my riper tomatoes before I get a chance to pick them, a wily, out of control cucumber plant that is just now starting to show signs of vegetable production (did I mention the whole polar vortex that is coming next month and sure to wipe out everything, garden-wise?) and potato plants that are having some kind of cross-species identity crisis and producing tomato-looking fruit on their plants. Oh, oh, oh! And please don’t let me forget that I am currently babying along four of the world’s most expensive peppers. Ten pepper plants are possibly going to net me FOUR peppers, if I’m really lucky. Worst. Deal. Ever. But enough words. Let’s go to the pictures, shall we?

If you're going to take it, eat it you fucker. Don't leave it beside the plant like a sick game for me to step on. This is not how you repay the kindness of a meal, Chipper.

If you’re going to take it, eat it you fucker. Don’t leave it beside the plant like a sick game for me to step on. This is not how you repay the kindness of a meal, Chipper.

I planted the tubers, and eventually, potato plants sprung (and I'm assuming that potatoes began to grow beneath the soil at the same time). NOW my potatoes have decided that they don't want to be potatoes anymore and so are morphing into tomato plants. Honestly potatoes, wtf?

I planted the tubers, and eventually, potato plants sprung (and I’m assuming that potatoes began to grow beneath the soil at the same time). NOW my potatoes have decided that they don’t want to be potatoes anymore and so are morphing into tomato plants. Honestly potatoes, wtf?

Honestly. Even if there was a chance of having normal, average sized cucumbers out of this plant, the frost that's due to hit us NEXT month will surely take care of that quick smart. Argh!

Honestly. Even if there was a chance of having normal, average sized cucumbers out of this plant, the frost that’s due to hit us NEXT month will surely take care of that quick smart. Argh!

Here is one of four peppers I am currently trying to ease into maturity. Given the rest of my gardening luck this year, I'm not holding out a lot of hope, but damned if I can give up on anything.

Here is one of four peppers I am currently trying to ease into maturity. Given the rest of my gardening luck this year, I’m not holding out a lot of hope, but damned if I can give up on anything.

And now, I am hearing that it is supposed to rain for the rest of the week. Oh  joy. Oh rapture. Just one more thing to throw my garden and winter reserves into a tailspin, as though those identity-crisis- having potatoes and tomato-thieving chipmunks were not enough.

It’s a good thing that I’m too lazy and unmotivated to actually drink. This kind of raggedy-ass nature behaviour/sabotage would likely start me on a three-day bender. Honestly now, what’s a girl to do?


29
Jul 14

Banana Crumble Cake a.k.a. Wear-Your-Big-Pants Cake

I have no idea where I found this recipe or why it took so long for me to try it but OMG, this is like banana bread and cake rolled up into one thigh thundering mass of yumminess. Miss Miranda and I adapted the recipe we had and baked this recipe recently and I posted a picture on the Keswick Blog’s Facebook page with the hashtags #curvygirl #lovescake. Never were these hashtags truer than after tasting this tasty little toodle.

The Ultimate Non-crummy Banana Crumb Cake to end all Banana cakes

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Cake Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups mashed banana (approx 3-4 large bananas)
1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (DIY: 1 cup of milk minus 2 tbsp plus 2 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice, let sit 5 minutes then use as directed)

Crumb Topping Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 tbsp mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake: Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until well-incorporated. Stir in mashed banana, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk and the rest of the flour mixture. Mix just until there are no streaks of dry ingredients remaining. (I highly recommend taking your time and doing the additions in stages, as stated above – I usually just throw it all together, but slowing down actually did give me a better result 😉 )

Pour batter into the prepared pan.

For the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Add in softened butter, mashed banana and vanilla and blend ingredients in (with a pastry cutter or a couple of forks) until mixture is moist and sandy. It should stick together in clumps when you squeeze it between your fingers. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the cake (there will be a lot of it and it will cover the entire surface).

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

image

Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into delicious, scrumptious squares of delight. Share this or keep it all for yourself. If the people in your life don’t understand, are they really the right people to keep around? If you’re so inclined, this cake will keep very well in an airtight sealed container for a few days. But beware of thieves. They can be crafty fuckers when it comes to cake.


10
Jun 14

Garbage is heavy so we reduced the load

Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve been enamoured with the idea of composting our ‘natural’ garbage. This family of mine goes through crazy amounts of produce on a daily basis and all of the inedible peels, rinds and waste really add a lot of heft to the green bin, that up until very recently, I had to navigate or carry down the driveway at some ungodly hour in the morning. Every freakin’ week. And I did not enjoy doing it. But I also did not enjoy the idea of having a smelly house fully of rotting trash. So I carried that trash out all the while still cruising Pinterest and frugal sites for composter ideas.

And then one day, while at Princess Auto, Mr. K.B. saw a rolling composter that was on sale(!!) for $150.00. I balked at that price, but Mr. K.B. took one look at it and said, “I can totally build that.” And so, a few weeks ago, he set about to do just that. And he did. And it’s amazing, function and didn’t cost us a thing because he repurposed a lot of things he already had on hand. So now I have a rolling composter and my trips to the curb have become much, much lighter. Like, it has gone from me dragging two green bins, heavy and full, to taking ONE green bin 3/4 full and seemingly light as a feather.

My fancy and frugal rolling composter. It's a little bit of wonderful in a spherical shape.

My fancy and frugal rolling composter. It’s a little bit of wonderful in a spherical shape.

Having a handy husband or partner or kid is one of the most frugal things you can do!

Having a handy husband or partner or kid is one of the most frugal things you can do!

*Happy dance* (Just to embarrass my kids, because I live for them but I also live to embarrass them, apparently).

The second thing that I now have (read Mr. K.B. made for me) to make the whole ‘ getting the garbage to the curb day while reducing injury and cursing’ thingy is this:

The frugal (free) super garbage trolley of the 'wick!

The frugal (free) super garbage trolley of the ‘wick!

Not even fully loaded - rolls like a dream. No more smashed feet from that evil green bin!

Not even fully loaded – rolls like a dream. No more smashed feet from that evil green bin!

Again, in his brilliance, he fashioned this mega-helpful trolley out of a discarded tow-behind kid carrier (assuming behind a bike, not a car) and some metal shelving he had on hand. And honestly, it really does handle amazingly well. Now the kids WANT to help take out the garbage. Could it be? Really? Might I be actually WINNING?!?!?