Thursday, August 31, 2006


Here are the pics I promised. This is Ollie after he has eaten his homemade dinner. On a plus side, the homemade food is harder for them to eat so they end up taking their time which is a huge bonus for dogs that run the risk of bloat.

And this is Miss Emily in her spot where she watches the world go by...

Going to the dogs

Now here is a little diversion. I'm going to talk about dog food. As someone who cooks for a living, I finally started making my dogs their own homemade dog food. I was so sick of trying to decipher the ingredient lists on the commercial products on the market. And I was so sick of hearing about dogs dying of cancer. I figure all that processing that the dog food goes through can't be good for it. I actually started with this recipe the last time the dogs were sick with diarrhea.
  • 2 packs of ground chicken (each are less than a pound)
  • 12 servings of brown rice
  • 1/2 cup of flax seeds
  • 2 cups of veggies, right now I am using broccoli, cauliflower and string beans.
  • 1 large container of plain yogurt, I was using fat free but I'm now experiementing with a full fat yogurt. I do look for the one with the least amount of added ingredients. All we need is milk and active bacterial cultures.

I cook the chicken in a microwave safe dish at full power for about 5 minutes, I then stir it and check for pink. There usually is some in the middle. I add the flax seeds and, if I have room, the veggies. I microwave this for another 3 - 5 minutes. I like the veggies to be good and soft. My dogs won't eat raw broccoli or cauliflower but they like it cooked. In the mean time, I have started the rice on the stove, following the package instructions. Once the meat is done, I transfer all if it, juices and all, to a mixing bowl. I add the rice and let it all cool down, stiring often to help it cool down quicker. Remember, we don't want it at room temp for any period of time. I just want it cool enough to I can add the yogurt without killing the bacteria in the yogurt or making it curdle. Once it is almost to room temp, I mix in the yogurt. This will only last my dogs 4 days so I double it. I feed them a regular kibble meal in the morning and they get this homemade mix for supper. They get 15 ounces or roughly 2 cups. They are 85 and 95 pounds so they are big dogs who need a lot of food. I still feed some kibble in case there are nutrients I am missing in my homemade stuff. But I do find a difference when they get just kibble. They fart a lot, have huge poops and Ollie has big eye boogers.

Aren't they beautiful! They are Bouvier des Flandres. And if anyone is interested in getting one, please contact me. These are not ordinary house pets and I wish someone had told me the truth before I got my beasts. (today blogger is not letting me post pics... check back tomorrow!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Knives, Corn and Veggie Meals

You may be wondering why it's been so quiet lately, well we were on vacation. We made a lovely trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to see Fortress Louisbourg. It is a 1700's era fortress that has been reconstructed. We took my nephew and Tim's son who are 14 and 13 respectively. An old fort is a great place for boys that age. They were expecting ruins where one has to image that there once was a fort there. But what they got was a whole other story.

By the end of it, they were over stimulated.

We even ate at the inn at the fortress. Period food was not Alec's cup of tea but he coped... Note to parents - expose your kids to all types of food early on. If you only feed them "what they like" they will end up only eating chicken nuggets and fries. And no one on this planet needs to live off of that crap!

While we were away, I had my knives sharpened. A sharp knife is a safe knife. And if you do cut yourself, the cut will be a clean cut so re-attachment will be easy! I can cut through a squash no problem because instead of using force, I use the sharpness of my blade.

After our journey we needed to eat healthy. Restaurant food is full of sodium and fat. So I made a corn and broccoli stew. On top of the 27 ears corn I had previously roasted and shucked, I roasted some more for this stew and shucked it. The ingredients for this stew are easy.

  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 6 cups of broccoli (2 stalks)
  • 4 ears of corn (or 3 cups of nibblets)
  • 2 cups of skim or 1% milk
  • pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ms. Dash or salt.

First saute the bacon over low heat until almost cooked but not browned, add the onions and cook until soft. Add the potatoes and half the milk. Cover and simmer 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork. Add the broccoli and the rest of the milk and the Ms. Dash and Pepper. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Add the corn, cover and cook another 5 minutes. That's it. Tasty! And low in sodium and fat!

As you can see, I used red potatoes and left the skin on. Just a reminder to stock up on corn while it's in season. Roast it on the bbq or boil it, shuck it from the cob and freeze it. The roasted corn is great thrown in all sorts of winter soups, stew, etc. Yum!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hot Weather Tip

I just thought I'd share a pic of the beautiful loon family we have on the lake this summer. Loones mate for life and return to the same lake every year. I've named them Maurice and Fredricka. This year they had 3 babies! I love my new camera!

About the tip, to help keep the heat out of your kitchen, use the crock pot, also known as a slow cooker, to make your meals on hot days. It throws off little heat, you can fill it the night before and is super convenient. If you don't have one, consider investing in one. Get one with a removable liner for easier clean up. You can get them for around $30 and it's still a good quality unit. They come in a variety of sizes so you can get one to meet your needs. And there are a ton of great slow cooker cookbooks on the market these days but here's a great recipe to get you started.

Curry Chicken and Veggies:
Serves 4-6
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (or you could use pork, lamb or beef, cubed)
3 cups frozen veggies (peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or a mixture)
1 can of cream of chicken, broccoli or onion soup (if you want to keep the sodium low and can't find low sodium cream of anything soup, use 1 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken or veggie broth and stir in 1 cup of yogurt right before serving)
1 tablespoon curry powder (or try the Madras curry powder if you can find it, or experiment with any indian spices if you feel like it)

Throw all of it in the crock pot/slow cooker and cook on low for 7 - 8 hours or high for 3 - 4 hours. Serve over rice (make it in your microwave, it's quicker and won't heat up the house)

Now get out there and enjoy what's left of the summer!

Kabobs and Corn at the Cottage

We're at the cottage again. It looks like a bit of a shack from the outside. I've got better shots that I'll share over time. It's better than it looks!

My nephew requested kabobs last night. And Tim brought home 27 ears of corn leftover from a party he had attended. So there was dinner.We are officially corned-out. I had to cook them all last night because, as I've mentioned, corn starts to convert its sugars to starch as soon as it is picked. This was picked the morning before. So I roasted most of it on the bbq and boiled a few. I'll take them home and shuck them off the knob and freeze them. I'll have great roasted corn for the next couple of months!

The kabobs consisted of steak, potatoes and red onion. I made a marinade of dijon mustard, balsalmic vinegar, no salt steak grilling spice, rosemary and chives. I cooked them on the bbq for about 20 minutes. I didn't want to make the steak well done. I had parboiled the potatoes so they were partially cooked that way they finished on the kabobs at the same time as the steak. It was delish!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yes, I'm stuffing things again, but this time you can see it!

Last night we had stuffed zucchini. Now I know what you are thinking.. wow, she's at it again. But last night was different. Usually I use couscous or rice with some veggies and call it stuffing. Well last night I used ground pork (1/2 lb of the lean variety), sun dried tomatoes, a little tomato paste, onion, garlic, basil, herb and garlic boursin and parmesan cheese. I also added about half of the zucchini bits I had scooped out of the zucchini to make room for the stuffing. I sauteed the ground pork, added the onion, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, sauteed for a couple more minutes. Then I mixed in the tomato paste and both cheeses.

I cooked it at 350 for 35 minutes. While it was cooking, I first steamed until just that vibrant green, some brussel sprouts. Then I sauteed them in about a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkled in some no salt herb and garlic seasoning. Once they were carmalized (had brown bits on them) I tossed in about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. My nephew hadn't eaten brussel sprouts before so I was a little worried he may not like them.

He liked them! He liked it all. Although he's not the most picky kid. He grew up on Kielbassa and the like. So there you have it, Stuffed Zucchini and Brussel Sprouts! Yum!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Changing my mind on the fly...

Yesterday I had intended to bbq a pork tenderloin and steam some veggies but it was rainy and chilly so I changed my mind as the day went on. Instead I made a soup out of the pork tenderloin, which was already marinating in a Cuban Chipotle marinade. So I had my flavor base, hot and spicy!

I seared the pork on all sides then put it in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Then I let it rest for another 20 minutes and diced it up to go in the soup.

I sauteed some onions, diced carrots and garlic until soft, added in some low sodium veggie broth and some wild brown rice. I let that come to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes until the rice was done. Then I tossed in the beans and corn (the corn was frozen corn I had cut off ears I had bbqed when the local corn was fresh) and the seasoning mix. The seasoning mix consisted of Chiopotle powder, chili powder, cumin, coriander, table Ms. Dash, Sweet Paprika and my homemade essence blend. I let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. We had it with a salad. The soup definately had a good kick! And I froze the leftovers. When I thaw a serving, it will likely need a bit of water added to thin the broth. It should keep well in the freezer for 6 months.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words...

So while smoking the lovely brisket I told you about, I had a little accident.

No one was injured. The moral of the story is, if you are looking for a new bbq, you may want to get one with stainless steel side tables, not plastic. Or you may want to leave the smoker packet on the bbq until the next day when it's nothing but ashes and not still smoking...

The brisket turned out a little tough. It was hard to keep the smoker packets smoking and not have the heat on too high. However, judging by how long the packets smoked after I was done, the idea would have been to start them about 1/2 to 1 hour before hand and then once they got really going, I would have been able to turn the heat down. Even the goddess makes mistakes... as demonstrated above. Oh well, if I was perfect, life would be boring.

As promised, here is the picture of the fantastic planked salmon meal. I had planked the salmon the night before and then just reheated over low heat wrapped in foil before serving. The spinach is one of our favs, just saute in a bit of olive oil and garlic, saute some onions, melt in some of your favorite cheese. This time we used Cambazola and Parmesan. Also on the plate is some of my leftover potato salad made with mayo, my homemade dijon, some cider vineagr, chives and green onions. Yum!

Yes, it's a paper plate, and plastic margarine's the cottage for goodness sake!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Now, with pictures!

I got a fantastic digital camera this week. Now this blog will have pics of all the great recipes! I've already taken pictures of a great salmon dish we had last night and the brisket that is marinating for tonight. One small problem... I forgot the USB cable to download the pics here at the cottage. So stay tuned. You'll get to see it all shortly!

I managed to find Brisket. It is a hard cut of meat to find around these parts but there is a butcher shop here in Rothesay and they happened to have some. I've marinated it over night in Beer, dijon mustard, garlic, worchestershir sauce and a few dashes of hot sauce. Tonight I'm going to slow smoke it with mesquite. Then serve it with my homemade bbq sauce. I have an Asian slaw I made (soy sauce, rice wine vineager, pickled ginger, garlic and honey) yesterday that I will serve with it. I'll add a salad and we're done! I also have a nice bottle of Shiraz to go with it. Yum! Come back for the pics!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Planning Leftovers

I can't emphasize enough how great it is to make extras when you cook and plan ahead. This weekend while relaxing at the cottage, I made a pork roast. It was too much for us to eat at one meal but now I have grilled meat ready to go. I'm thinking pulled pork sandwiches with a nice salad one night for dinner. I'll simply simmer up some of my homemade bbq sauce and toss in the pork.

I also had some turkey thighs with me so I bbq'ed them last night with a little Boursin (a flavored cream cheese like product) under the skin. Tonight I'll wrap them in foil and heat them up in our toaster oven while I saute some spinach and add some onions and the rest of the Boursin. Dinner is done.

Take the opportunity to throw some extras on your bbq on the weekend while you have time. Then you have leftovers for lunchs or dinners during the week. This also works with grilled veggies!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Where have we been?

Well we've once again, been at the cottage. We came down on Friday and aren't leaving until Wednesday morning. Although we actually got bored yesterday. It was too windy for Tim to work on the guest cottage or for me to sand some chairs I'm re-finishing. Oh, I could have sewn, cooked, wrote.... but I just wasn't inspired. Neither was Tim so we went for a drive in to Saint John. It was a holiday so everything was closed. We did stop at the local brew pub for a snack. After we came back I did put on a small pot of black bean soup. I sauted the following:
Red onion
Jalepeno pepper
Red pepper

Then I added a shucked ear of corn to help thicken the broth, and water. I also added in some of my homemade tex/mex no salt seasoning, some table Ms. Dash, some Ancho Chili powder and some no salt herb and garlic seasoning.
I let this all simmer for about 20 minutes.

Then I added in:
The 14 oz can of No Salt Added Black Beans
2 diced tomatoes
the corn from the shucked ear
1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
3 chopped green onions.

Serve this with a good helping of grated Mozza (which is what I had on hand) or Cheddar or Monteray Jack Cheese and some nacho chips. Nutricious, delicious and cheap!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm Stuffing Things Again!

This time it is a huge zucchini. I love this time of year when the veggies are mutant sized! Stuffing things is a great way to use up leftovers. I had bbq'd some shrimp last night but we didn't eat them all. So I did a greek inspired, shrimp, couscous, tomato, onion and feta stuffing. Couscous is great because you just boil twice as much water as couscous, pour it over the couscous and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff it up and it is ready to go! I sauteed my onions and some of the inside bits that I had scraped out of the zucchini. Once the onions were soft, I added in some minced garlic and continued sauteing for just another minute. Garlic can burn quickly so be vigilant. I cut up the shrimp. I tossed everything together with some chopped fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and my 'now famous' homemade seasoning mix, Greek inspired. Tonight I'll cook them on the bbq using indirect heat. Yum!

Life in the Big City...

One of the things I like most about our cottage is that there is a great farmer's market close by. I can get fresh, local ingredients 7 days a week. I only buy local ingredients when they are available. Not only am I supporting the local farmers, but the taste of the produce right from the farm is about as good as life gets. I often hear the staff talking about the various local farmers who call regularily about bringing in their produce. It's amazing. They also stock local dairy products and meats, including organic meats! Sounds great, right?! So can someone explain to me why we don't have access to the same type of market right here in the booming city of Moncton? I know we have our farmers market on Saturday mornings, as well as the city markets in Moncton and Dieppe, but what about the other 6 days a week? Now some of you may be saying, well now you can get your fruits and veggies on Saturday morning for the week. But some things only taste best when they come right from the farm, picked that morning, like corn. I had local corn on the weekend but yesterday when I went to our local outlet of the regional grocery store chain, the corn was from the US. Now by the time the corn has travelled up from the US, all the wonderful sugars in it have turned to starch. Blah. What is the point of that? We do have a Stirlings (which is a farm stand) but it's only open in Fall, Winter and Spring. Which makes absolutely no sense to me! Okay, Fall I can understand. But not being open in Summer?! UGH!