Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grape Arbour Revisions

Last year I showed several of our grape arbours.   The one arbour was hard to walk under when the grapes grew so Barry added a peak to the one opening.

The previous owners used unpeeled saplings as cross pieces in the arbour to support the vines.  It looked rustic but unfortunately, they rotted from the inside out.  You couldn't tell that they were weakening until you found broken pieces on the ground.  I was afraid the vines would break from the weight of the grapes and not enough support to hold them up.  Barry changed them all to 2x2s.  As he removed the saplings you could see that only the bark was holding them together. 

Here you can see one of the vines being held up by the new cross pieces.

Barry added a peak to the entrance of the arbour leading from the herb garden.  That way I can reach the herb garden through the arbour without having to dodge bunches of grapes.  Last year, not realizing the problems ahead and keeping with the rustic look of the arbour, we used unpeeled saplings as horizontal supports for the new grapes my son planted.  Now that we know that they will not last, we will replace them before too many vines are using them for support. 

This is the other entrance from between the two sheds that leads through the arbour to the herb garden.

We found a long string of solar lights while shopping one day and used them in the new peak.

Here is a photo at night that doesn't really do the lights justice.  They are brighter than we thought and look really neat.  I plan to get more strings and add them to the arbour over time.  We'll then have a lighted outdoor room to sit in and enjoy the late evening.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Poppy Seed Cake

This is another quick and tasty dessert recipe I got from my dear late Aunt Ruby.  I already shared her Fast Fixin' Cake  previously.

This is another recipe that starts with a cake mix.

1 yellow cake mix
1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c oil
1/2 c sherry
1 c sour cream
1/3 c poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine cake mix and pudding mix. 

Mix in poppy seeds.


This is the brand of sherry that I use, only because it was what Auntie Ruby used.  She said you could substitute apple juice of the sherry but I have never tried it.

Add oil, sherry, eggs and sour cream.

Mix well.


Pour into a greased bundt pan.  I use cooking spray to grease the pan.

Bake at 350°F for 50 - 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Place plate on top of cake pan and flip cake over.  Cool cake on plate.

Slice and enjoy. You probably could use a vanilla or lemon glaze to fancy up the cake but it is so moist and tasty we have never had it that way.  ;)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lulu Stories

I have a couple of funny incidents that happened with Lulu lately to share with you.  Unfortunately no pics so you'll have to use your imaginations.

Barry has been home helping with spring work in the yard before going back to work in Alberta.  We usually take a break in the afternoon for either a beer, iced coffee or a smoothie.  We sit in the front yard and watch the birds at the fountains and enjoy the yard.  When we started doing this, we often had peanuts or trail mix or something to snack on.  Lulu would see us sitting on the lawn chairs and hustle over to mooch a snack.

The other day we had been very busy - we bagged a cherry tree, pulled some weeds in the garden and did a couple more smaller jobs.  I was in the back thinning the fruit on the peach and apple trees and Lulu was scratching in the herb garden.  Barry came into the back and said, "Do you want a beer?"  I said yes but continued thinning the tree I was working on while Lulu took off for the front yard.  It was almost as if she decided, "Beer time means snack time!"  We both got a good laugh from that because usually she goes to the front if she sees us moving that way or carrying out the chair cushions.  But this time she had no clues at all except the word beer.  We need a new song - instead of "Beer for my horses" we need to sing "Beer for my chicken"  ;)

In the evening when we are sitting in the living room, Lulu usually sits on her footstool and snoozes until bedtime then I put her on her roost where she stays all night.  She won't go to bed before us.  If I put her on her roost and we are still up, she jumps off and comes back into the living room.  I give her some scratch and her pellets are in easy reach when she is on her roost. 

One night last week, Lulu got it into her head that she wanted to jump up on the end table beside the chair Barry was sitting in.  She has only jumped on the table once when he was eating a snack and she figured he should share.  That was months ago and this night he wasn't eating anything.  He kept telling her no and kept preventing her from jumping up.  He was getting frustrated because she wasn't listening and she was bound and determined that she was going onto the table. 

Barry finally took her off her footstool so she couldn't jump up on the table.  Lulu started to grumble and headed off to the kitchen where she put herself on her roost.  We thought that this was funny because she never does that.  It was almost like she was pouting and went to her room to sulk.  She turn her back on us and stood facing the closet the rest of the evening completely ignoring whatever we were doing.  She has never before stayed on her roost all evening.  She ignored us completely!  Talk about a snub!
The next morning all was forgiven and back to normal.  Funny chicken!  ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Focaccia Bread

I decided to try my hand at Focaccia Bread.  I found three recipes that I combined to make my own.   &   &

1/2 c warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast

1 1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4+ c flour
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch pepper

1 c mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
sundried tomatoes
olive oil

I had never used sundried tomatoes in my cooking.  So last year I decided to dehydrate some Roma tomatoes.  After they were dried, I froze them.

For this recipe, I decided to try two methods of using the tomatoes.  The first was to rehydrate in water.

The second was to rehydrate in olive oil.

I also minced some garlic for the recipe as well.

To make the dough:  Stir the sugar into the warm water and add yeast.  Set aside for about 10 minutes so yeast can start to work.  Mix the spices into a couple cups flour.  Mix the water, oil, salt and yeast and add spiced flour.  Different spices can be used - some use rosemary, etc. but I am partial to oregano.  Add rest of flour, mixing until you have a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Grease bowl with olive oil and roll dough around until coated.  Cover and let rise until double.

Grate mozzarella cheese and set aside.

Divide dough in half and press each onto a well oiled cookie sheet.  Press out dough until it fills the sheet.  Set aside to rise for about 30 minutes.

Use your thumb or finger to press indentations into the dough in rows.

Drizzle on some olive oil making sure it fills many of the indentations.

For one pan, I sprinkled mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

For the second, I sprinkled on the minced garlic.

Then I added the two types of tomatoes to see which were better.  On the left are the oil ones and on the right the ones soaked in water.  Then sprinkle with the two cheeses.

Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.  This was the cheese focaccia.

This was the garlic sundried tomato one.  Again the oil tomatoes are on the left and the water rehydrated ones on the right.

Remove them from the pan.  Cut into squares and enjoy.

The cheesy focaccia was very tasty with the herbs and cheese combination.  It was good the second, even cold.  The tomato one would have been a great addition to a spaghetti dinner.  The water dehydrated tomatoes turned out to be similar in taste to using fresh tomatoes.  The ones I soaked in oil tasted better but burned more easily because they weren't so moist.  So I have a dilemma next time I try it in how to do the tomatoes. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Planting Blueberries

We decided to plant some blueberry bushes so we can grow our own fresh blueberries for pies, jams, desserts and smoothies. 

We read that the soil should be more acidic than most soil.  There were several ways to do that.  One was to incorporate pine needles or pine bark in the ground and as a mulch.  We didn't have any pine needles but had a fair bit of pine bark from firewood my son cut from deadfall at the ranch/orchard he was working at.  We used some of the bark as a groundcover under one of the grape arbors.  We had more stockpiled to use under another arbor when we got enough to cover it.

This is the bark we used.  When I gathered it up, Lulu helped to disperse the beetles, centipedes and other bugs.  She had a great time waiting for me to lift the bark so she could go "hunting".

I used our chipper to shred the bark into smaller pieces.  The chipper has a detachable bag that I used so the shredded bark wouldn't spread all over the garden.

We spread the bark on the row where we were going to plant the blueberries and tilled it into the soil.

Once this was done, we were ready to start planting.

I read that you can use peat moss to help with the acidity of the soil.  We mixed more pine bark, and some peat moss with the original soil from the hole.  We dug it deeper than needed so we could put several inches of the bark/peat mix at the bottom.

We set the plant in the hole and added more of the amended soil.

We tamped down the soil around the plant.  We then removed all flowers from the bushes so the plant's energy would go to rerooting and growing instead of producing fruit.  There were many flowers so we have high hopes for a good crop next year.

We mulched the plant with more shredded pine bark.

We then added landscape fabric and mulched with even more bark.

We laid the soaker hose with the additional mister nozzles as in our other bushes.

We finished in between the rows with the shavings we hauled in.  They are finer than the bark I shredded but I think all the contrasts in the groundcovers looks neat.

Now to watch and wait until next year to eat our own blueberries.  ;)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lunch With Rambo

We stopped in Hope, BC on the way to visit my sister-in-law in White Rock, BC.  After lunch Lulu needed to stretch her legs so we stopped at the Tourism Centre.   Lulu noticed the cutouts on the lawn.

"Who is that guy with the big muscles and why does he have a gun?" Lulu wondered out loud.  "Oh, I see," she continued, "It's Rambo!"

"Did you know much of Rambo, First Blood was shot right here in Hope?"  "That was many, many years ago though," said Lulu, "way before I was even an egg."

"Hey, mom!"  "Look at me,"  yelled Lulu,  "I'm Rambo!  Don't I look tough and scary!"

"Maybe this is my better side."  "What do you think, mom,"  queried Lulu, "Do I look better in profile?"

"Hey, listen to me,"  "Yo, Adrian!"  "Do I sound like Rambo?"  "What do you mean, wrong movie!?"  "Mom, are you making fun of me?"

"Oh, how about this, mom,"  chuckled Lulu, "I'll be back!"  "Yes I was making fun - not only wrong movie but wrong star too!"  "Cackle, cackle, cackle."

"Hey mom, look at these guys!"  cried Lulu.  "Who do you think they are?"

"They're paddling a canoe down the river."  said Lulu.  "It looks like a big river."  "Hey, I'll bet it is the Fraser River that runs right by our house too!"  "What do you think, mom?"

"Hey, mom!"  "Do you think I look good in a beard?"  asked Lulu.  "What about the skunk-tail hat."  "Do I smell funny?"  "What do you mean coonskin?"  "It looks like skunk to me not raccoon!"

"Hey look at me!"  "I'm a blond!"  "Do I look good?  Should I dye my feathers?  What do you think, mom?"  "Hey, mom!  Watch me, I'm paddling a canoe!  Neat huh?!"

"He went thataway!"  chortled Lulu.  "Oh, this was fun, mom, but we should get going."  said Lulu.  "I feel an egg coming on, so I need to get back to the van and get settled.  You know how I hate to lay while we're bouncing down the road."

So we continued on our way and yes indeed, Lulu did lay an egg in the van.  (But not until we stopped for supper.)