Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bye bye for a bit!

Well, tonight I am off to Scotland and England for two weeks, to help my friend Phyllis celebrate the year of her 50th birthday. Poor hubster gets left here with the the cats and the boxes. Pray for him! HAHAHA! I will be sponging off relatives for accommodation for fully half the trip.

In the meantime, I took a couple of photos out the window the other day when it was raining. I'll get some more interesting photos posted after my trip. I plan to drink stout, ingest English chocolate (my favourite), and inhale fish and chips, and several "full Englishes" (greasy breakfast extravaganza!) I will be staying well away from haggis and deep-fried Mars bars. I managed to lose three pounds in the past two weeks, from running up and down stairs with boxes, so I am ready to pack it back on with cream teas! If I get near a computer, you might hear from me.

Here are your pics:

The cornfield next to us, owned by the neighbour way across the street:

The granary, which will one day have my studio on the second floor:

Julius, who adores my office windows, especially when the chipmunks run under them:

Be good while I am gone! Don't do anything I wouldn't do. That gives you a hell of a lot of leeway...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The pizza dough recipe

By popular request... by the way, Canadian Living magazine does a GREAT job of testing its recipes. I love them and this is from one of my favourite cookbooks. They have a website with plenty more recipes:

And no, I don't work for them! :)


From The Canadian Living Cookbook

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp quick-rising (instant) dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water (120 deg F)
2 tsp olive oil

In bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. With wooden spoon, gradually stir in water and oil until dough forms, using hands if necessary.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface, knead for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. With floured hands, shape into smooth ball. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface; divide in half and shape into disc. Roll out disc into 12-inch circle, letting dough rest, covered, if too elastic to roll. Place on large pizza. Let rest for 15 minutes. Press all over to form slightly raised rim.

After making the dough, you add your toppings and bake in a preheated 500F oven for about 12 minutes.


Whole wheat or multi-grain pizza dough: Replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat or multigrain flour (preferably bread flour.)

Herbed pizza dough: Flavour the dough by adding 1/2 tsp dried oregano to the dry ingredients.

For thin-crust pizza, bake shaped dough without letting it rise. For thicker crust, let shaped dough rise for up to 45 minutes.

My own variations:

I let it the shaped disc rise for 30 minutes, then I roll it out. I put the disk on an upside-down pizza pan covered (enough so that the dough will slide off it fairly easily) in cornmeal (because I don't own a pizza paddle!) I let it rest for 15 minutes, then poke some holes in it with a fork to stop bubbles forming as it bakes. I add the toppings, then slide the dough from the pan onto my pizza stone, which is in the oven already, preheated to 500F.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Greetings from the farm!

Well, I've had requests (okay, one request, from Nancy in Mexico) to get on with it and update my blog. So at great personal expense (yes, I'm doing this instead of unpacking a box), I bring to you: our driveway on garbage day last Wednesday. You might have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see this detail, but just to the left of the end of a driveway, there is a tiny beige dot. That would be our garbage can. (The bigger white thing is the sign for our farm, kindly left by the previous owners.)

Gordon put the can in the back of our Mazda, with the hatchback open and the can poking out. Time for a pick-up truck! I needed binoculars to check that the can was emptied later, and the lid was on the ground. HAHAHAHA!

The corn to the right is on land that belongs to our as-yet-un-met neighbour, who lives kitty-corner across the street. All we can see of their place is their silos. The land on the left is all ours, baby. Most of our land is planted in soybeans destined for tofu (it's rented out to another farmer for the time being.) Oh wait, I already mentioned the tofu in the last post. Whaddaya want, I have a middle-aged brain.

And here is the FIRST FARM PIZZA:

Shrimp, red pepper, black olive tapenade, red onions and mozzarella. And I baked it in this baby:

MY NEW CONVECTION OVEN! With bread-proofing feature! I have died and gone to heaven! I love my stove, I love my new bottom-mount-freezer fridge, I love my new KING SIZE bed, I love my new kitchen, I love my new house, I love my barn and granary and garage, and I love my new farm!! I am overwhelmed with love. Feel the love, baby. Oh, well, I guess that should be "our" not "my", since Gordon owns it too. Fine, I'll concede that.

Okay, so garbage and ovens. Not the most titillating blog entry, BUT yesterday I did see about THIRTY wild turkeys, eight of which were babies, sauntering past the barn to the field. And across the street there is a migratory bird sanctuary, so among other things, we are seeing and hearing a lot of Canada geese.

Oh yeah, and there are plenty o' chipmunks around the yard that will soon be eating out of my hand. Bring it on! Bring it on!

So, Nancy, are ya HAPPY now?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We survived the move!

Yes, we survived! The movers are coming again tomorrow with our stuff that has been sitting in storage for a year.

I am sitting in my new office (which has TWO WINDOWS! It used to be the front parlour), looking at our front fields planted in soybeans that are destined for tofu. It is lovely here and very peaceful, and at night we have a 360-degree view of the dark, dark sky, pretty well right down to the horizon. I can't wait to get the telescope set up!

The cats are reallllly, reallllly happy. They are happy-like-they-have-been-taking-happy-drugs happy! I think they are pleased to be in a house bigger than 700 SF: more personal space, fewer territorial disputes. Even the new king-size bed is larger. And they like tearing up and down the stairs, and Julius especially loves the wide windowsills. Right now he is on the bathroom one, basking in the sun, waiting for us to set up his kitty palace so that he can go outside and try to lure country chipmunks into his den.

And what do I like? TWO BATHROOMS! Hahahahahaha!

Stay tuned in the coming months and years for ADVENTURES IN FARMING: Watch the girl born in Toronto do wild and crazy things as a neophyte farmer! :)

I feel very happy to be here, and very lucky. It feels like home at last.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What book are you?

This is so funny. Anne of Green Gables was one of my very favourite books growing up and I must have read it ten times or more!

You're Anne of Green Gables!

by L.M. Montgomery

Bright, chipper, vivid, but with the emotional fortitude of cottage
cheese, you make quite an impression on everyone you meet. You're impulsive, rash,
honest, and probably don't have a great relationship with your parents. People hurt
your feelings constantly, but your brazen honestly doesn't exactly treat others with
kid gloves. Ultimately, though, you win the hearts and minds of everyone that matters.
You spell your name with an E and you want everyone to know about it.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let's get away from boxes!

Oh yes, let's! Late yesterday afternoon we said, 'Enough packing!" and we took the kayaks out for two hours of blissful relaxing paddling.

What's that in the tree? A bird? A plane? No, it's....

A turkey vulture!

Surrounded by many other turkey vultures. Maybe they thought the packing was about to cause me to expire (it well might!)

And now, for a tour around the "Twin Lakes" we live on...

That's hubby, paddling off into the non-sunset.

And yes, a grainy shot of one of our resident loons:

Speaking of loons...

As you can see, I have the perfect model of kayak for myself:

And here he is again, my Partner in Packing. The lake was pretty smooth yesterday.

And here he is, in front of part of our lot. You can see one of our beaver lodges near the shoreline at the left.

The beautiful lake.

And to finish, something different. We put our wastebasket on the bed yesterday, and both cats decided it was a most wonderful place to sleep!

Okay. Back to my boxes. (large sigh)

Monday, September 10, 2007

And another pizza...

To counter-balance my persistent whining about moving, I bring to you the LAST PIZZA ...

Ah YES, the last pizza in this house. The next pizza will be made at the farm, in my fancy-schmancy new convection oven.

Here we have mozzarella, sliced tomatoes from the garden, basil from the garden, tomato sauce, garlic, and sliced grilled organic chicken (not from my garden) with oregano from the garden. Urp!

I tried to make the picture artsy by showing the reflection of the pizza in the KitchenAid mixer bowl.

Oh yeah, and Wolf Lover Girl tagged me for a Meme a while back, and I AM going to do that! It will be an excellent distraction from packing. Have I mentioned that I hate packing?

All my life is boxes, sunrise to sundown...

Sometimes, I go a little crazy when I'm packing boxes. But maybe it will amuse the movers...

They gave us a bunch of used boxes, and Hilldrup is not our moving company. I know that my destination is most assuredly not "excellence", so I corrected this:

Our tiny rental home is rapidly filling with boxes, making it ever-more-difficult to get the the bathroom at night without inflicting bruises on yourself:




Saturday, September 08, 2007

Cats love moving. Not. NOT!

Cats do not particularly like change. Cats are not particularly big fans of moving house. Zoë, who turns ten years old right around today, will soon have lived in four different provinces in her relatively short life. She is not impressed.

She does admit to one upside to moving, however:

"OOOooooooOOO, crinkly! With many possibilities for hiding within it. I LIKE IT. Am I not deliciously beautiful? Would butter not melt in my mouth? Hell, would a freshly-killed rodent not melt in my mouth?"

"Mummy Cat, you can act like nothing is going on, holding me upside-down and smiling at Daddy Cat, but I know it's a big fat lie. We're moving. I can tell from the mountains of boxes. I can tell from the packing paper. I can tell because you keep telling Daddy you're going to have aneurysm. I think I will go express my own conflicted emotions by peeing in your bathtub. Oh, and on your favourite pair of leopard-print Birkenstocks. Yes, that makes it much, MUCH better. And if you could throw my brother Julius (aka Agent Orange) off a bridge, I would be ever so grateful."

While Zoë lies comatose in her arms, Mummy Cat takes a self-portrait and tells herself she can always buy another pair of leopard-print Birkenstocks, but there is only one Zoë.

(Oh yeah, like that makes it all better! By the way, Odormute is fantastic stuff, but it doesn't work on cat-urine-impregnated cork. What Mummy really needs is a strong cup of tea. Or perhaps a stiff drink. Or maybe a trip to the South Pacific. Got that, Daddy Cat?)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Food glorious foooood!

Ah yes, I have been remiss in posting, as lately I have spent much of my personal time in close contact with boxes, packing tape and xylene markers... breathe deeply! Ah, how many brain cells did I lose to xylene-sodden markers before the computer became the tool of choice for graphic designers' mock-ups?

Anyhoo, I am taking a break from the hell that is packing in order to update you all on my adventures in food.

My dear hubster often makes us a "greasy fry-up" breakfast on the weekends (not for vegans, alas.) He enjoys making art out of my meal. Yesterday I sat down to this:

Voila: bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, multi-grain toast, and fried tomatoes, fried orange peppers, and sauteed mushrooms. My arteries have yet to recover. Being a good child of Brits, I always have HP Sauce with my breakfast sausage, despite the fact that it is no longer manufactured in England, but (GASP!!) in The Netherlands. And I have normal HP Sauce, not that FRUITY crapola that offensively dares to part from grand HP tradition.

Before I go too far off on that tangent, back to the meal at hand. As you can see, my darling hubby takes considerably LESS care with the arrangement of his own meal:

He is NOT the fan of fried tomates that I am, although here he did dare to allow one small red slice to pollute his plate. And he has his eggs fried with runny yolks.... EEEEEEYUWWWWW! Eeeyuw! EEEEYUW! EEEEYYYUUUUWWW! I cannot bare runny egg yolks! As a child, my mother gave me toast "soldiers" (toast cut into strips) and soft-boiled eggs, and I was honestly happy to dip soldiers into the disgustingly runny yolk and chow down. Now I just can't abide any egg that hasn't been cooked into oblivion. So my darling man scrambles my free-range eggs. The chickens who produced these eggs have their life story on the carton, and I believe they are sung to and massaged by the farmer who raises them. Perhaps they get the odd pedicure as well!

Now for something completely... non-breakfasty:

Pizza from two weeks ago, weirdly cropped with the lasso tool in Photoshop (because I was bored.) Shitake and poricini mushrooms, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil and I'm afraid I forget what else!

And from this past Friday, we have goat cheese mozzarella (good but strangely white for mozzarella), regular mozzarella, feta, red onion, yellow cherry tomatoes, zucchini and pine nuts, with tomato sauce:

Yes, and of all of this merely makes me hungry.

We bought a new fridge and stove for the new place last weekend, and my stove has a bread-proofing feature that I am quite looking foward to, as I make pizza dough and bread pretty much every week. Yesterday we bought a king-size mattress set. My days of sleeping on a 14-year-old queen (please don't misinterpret that!) are soon to be OVER.

We move to the farm in eleven days, and two weeks after that, I am dumping my sweetie with a houseful of boxes and going to Scotland and England with my friend Phyllis. And when I get back I am GETTING A DOG. And NEVER MOVING AGAIN!!! Why? Because, my friends, MOVING SUCKS!!!!