Sunday, 28 April 2013

French Style Caramelized Onions

I was reading, yet another, recipe that called for caramelized onions and said it would take 10 mins. to make them.  IT CANNOT BE DONE!  In 10 mins. you can make fried onions, delicious to be sure, but they are not caramelized.  Julia Child would be rolling over in her grave if she read that recipe!

Caramelized onions are a more delicate flavour and are the basis of authentic French onion soup.  They still taste great on a burger or Philly steak and will store for ages.  To caramelize the way Julia taught us, you are going to have to invest a little time and effort.  In fact, it's going to take 40 mins. to make these lovelies, so make extra and have them on hand!

To make a pint of onions, I need 8 cups or 2-3 lbs. of onions.  Lovin' my Perfecto scale! ~

Peel the skin from the onions and chop in strips.  Don't worry about removing the root end.  It will soften nicely in the process. I tried adding red onions this time and honestly don't think it made any difference to the final taste, so go with the cheaper cooking ones. ~

In a heavy bottom pot or frying pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil.  Olive oil is usually used but I substituted coconut oil because I'm trying to get more of it in my diet.  On medium, heat the oil until your see a shimmer rising from the pan.  ~

Add the onions to the hot oils and give them a good stir to coat. ~

Keep stirring the onions for 10 mins.  They will become translucent and a milk will develop as the juices are released. ~

Turn the heat up to medium high and add 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of sugar.  I used brown sugar and sea salt but whatever you have will do.  It's just enough to enhance the sweetness of the natural sugars in the onions. Stir for 25 - 30 mins.~

You are dealing with fairly high heat at this point and want to keep stirring so nothing sticks.  After 15 mins. the onions will look like this. ~

At this point, caramelizing begins to happen.  The onions begin to darken and bits of caramel stick to the bottom of the pan.  If it looks like your onions are scorching, you can add tiny bits of water to the pan.

After 30 mins. of stirring, the onions will look like this. ~

We're still not done!  All kinds of delicious bits are stuck to the bottom of the pan and we want to deglaze it to get all those bits in our mixture.

Remove the onions and add liquid to the pan.  I find booze works best.  Pick your poison and have at it!  Beer or wine work great but I didn't have any on hand, so I went with a fine Ontario whisky. ~

Just keep splashing some in (the pot, not you) and stir your little heart out, scraping up the browned bits, until it's all loosened and forms a light sauce.  You are keeping the heat up at medium high here.~

Add the onions back into the deglazed pan and stir to coat.

That's it.

The good news is, these keep for ages in the fridge and freeze well.  I sterilize jars and fill them with caramelized onions.  Put the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 mins. and they will keep for six months on the shelf. Doing a large batch at fall harvest is a great way to preserve onions and have a gourmet treat.  It's a perfect base for French onion soup.  Add some chicken stock and it's done!

Julia Child would be proud of us! ~

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

We Have A Chicken Star!

My daughter's chicken J-Lo is the cover girl for WSPA Choose Cage-Free!

Here's J-Lo sporting the latest in fashion for the newly rescued battery farm hen! ~

Rescued hens get a new start and a new wardrobe at Cobble Hills Farm Sanctuary

While waiting for space, fresh air and sunshine to help her don a new set of feathers, J-Lo favoured a pink, flannel one piece to enhance those elegant legs and the bared shoulder was the height of style at her new rescue home.  In keeping with the trend toward more natural female figures, J-Lo eschews Spanx and lets her tummy curves show.

You can read about J-Lo's amazing (and fashion trendsetting) recovery by clicking here.

If you want to learn a little more about the reason I choose cage free eggs, check out WSPA Choose Cage-Free click here.  It's not gory or radical;  just some facts, topics of discussion and you can take the pledge to eat only cage free eggs.

I did!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Has Spring Finally Arrived?

It must be here, at long, long last.  I have these sweet posies popping up. ~

How can something so tiny be so tough?  Neither hail, nor sleet nor snow stops the crocus from arriving exactly when it is supposed to appear.

Even raking up winter's mess didn't seem so bad with a little warmth and sunshine. I was pretty sure I had all those leaves cleared in the fall, so someone is sending me theirs!  I know I have the hottest wheelbarrow in the village because, when I say that to my male neighbours, they smile and nod. I'm sure they don't comment back because they're eaten up with jealousy.  But, I have decided that wheelbarrow and pick up truck beds should come with one big scratch on them, so you don't feel bad about chucking stuff in there! ~

I've only been able to get the frozen Christmas decor out of the urn in the last week.  After nearly fainting in shock at seeing birch limbs selling for $9 each at the nursery, I decided to leave mine in and plant around them. ~

 A bag of soil and some pretty pansy faces and I have a woodland garden! ~

 As soon as the weather gets a little more cooperative, I'll add some ivy and taller plants to fill it out.

Here's where I need your help.  I've been letting the urn get a rust patina, but it doesn't stand out very well.  Do I give it a coat of distressed white or leave it as it is?  I'm completely undecided and it's so much easier to leave the decision up to you! ~

Not that I'll be painting outside in the next few days.  The view of golden sunset on the forest across the river ~

 quickly turned to this. ~

Will that white stuff never stop falling from the sky?

Yes, it will!  The chives say it will. ~

and the crocus agrees! ~

We officially declare it spring!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cat Security 101

I'm not talking about you keeping your cats secure.  I'm talking about my cat inventing a security system for her stuff!

Deb from Just Cats Home Care explained why cats often leave their toys by the door.  I'm not going to tell you why.  You have to click on the name of her site and find out for yourself.  If you are a cat owner, you really need to follow Deb because she is a professional cat sitter and shares tons of information to keep your buddies happy and healthy.

My Maeve has an entirely different reason for keeping her stash by the front door. ~

One day, when my brother and his wife were visiting, I see Maeve making trips to the front door with toys in her mouth.  They, of course, don't see a thing going on.  Eventually, curiosity was killing me and I had to go see what she was doing.

She'd made a little pile of toys under the door stopper that my daughters always called the boingy thing. ~

I'm pondering this and pretending to pay attention to the conversation, as any good hostess should.  Just as they are exiting the door, it strikes me.  It's a boingy thing!  I halt my guests at the door and make that thing boing.  Like a shot, Maeve tears down the stairs and heads straight for those toys!  She has invented a toy alarm!

Who's been touching my pipe cleaner, fuzzy ball and fake mice! ~

Now I have to get everything back in the safe! ~

It's a regular thing now and I can show you if you pop over here.  I have lots of witnesses to Maeve's ingenuity.  It works especially well if you look very untrustworthy.  Why, just last weekend my friend Liz had the look of a diabolical cat toy thief.  Maeve took no chances and I can produce Liz for a witness along with at least two of my siblings, my neighbour and anyone under the age of thirteen who enters the house. Potential thieves all!

Don't tell me there's nothing going on in this girl's head! ~

Yeah, I know her head is dusty.  She flips on her back and pulls herself under the china cabinet with her paws.  The space is too small for the big cats to get in and it's fun to stick a paw out and swipe at the thieving guests when they walk by.  It's also like having a Robo Vac.  I find it much easier to dust off the cat's head than clean under the china cabinet!

I wonder what else is going on in that head?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Walking On Sunshine

Wayyyy back in 1983 Katrina & The Waves were singing about, "Walking on sunshine" and saying, "Don't it feel good!".  (Got that song stuck in your head yet?)  They'd have been singing a different tune in Ontario, Canada in 2013!

This last bout of snow, rain, wind and hail had me thinking I couldn't stand one more day of winter. I want to garden!  I want to wear sandals and paint furniture outside!  I want to stop paying heating bills!  I can't take any more!

Just when I hit my lowest ebb, I noticed the Forsythia branches I'd put in the tall vase were, at long last, blooming! ~

It inspired me to take the big rose bowl and nestle a potted Gerbera Daisy in a bed of  moss. ~


Add the packet of peas that I wish I was outside planting ~

and a bird guarding her nest of eggs. ~

Could I have found a nicer stick to use for a branch?  No.  It's a very special stick.  You see, it's the last one my little dog snuck into the house.  I found it after she passed away and, you know what, a stick didn't bother me in the house any more!  It sits on the bookshelves and reminds me of all the hours I spent throwing them for the dog that never tired of chasing one.

The spring onions I potted have started to sprout and they go up on the sideboard. ~

Maeve, the sentry cat, draws me to the front door.  Nothing moves on this property without her knowing about it.  There's a parcel on the porch and what is inside?

It's the artwork I won from A Daily Cup Of Mrs. Olsen!  Do pop over and pay her a visit.  She's a lovely lady and has a great, weekly Link Up party. ~

How could you know I would need it today Jann? ~

I'll focus on her promise of sun ~

and the lyrics she added from another song. ~

At least in this part of the family room I can 'walk on sunshine' and get a little bit closer to feeling fine. ~

Thanks, Jann.  I'm having a daily cup, surrounded by loveliness.

And..."Don't it feel good"!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Auction Love

This weekend my favourite auction house held a sale.  I only had to stick to two rules.  NO MORE CHAIRS and NO MORE LAMPS!  I can proudly tell you I didn't buy a single chair, though there were some beauts there.  Lamps?  We'll get to that in a bit and I'm counting on you to back me up.

In order to get this glass dome and pedestal ~

I had to buy what is called a box lot.  I have no idea what I will do with the wooden pieces.  Glass domes are scarce as hens teeth and expensive.  I bought this whole shebang for $5. ~

I've always wanted an alabaster lamp.  My Auntie Kay had one on the bedside table in her spare room and, as a little girl, I thought it was the most elegant lamp I had ever seen.  Although I have bought them for my shops, they always sell and one never came home with me.

When I walked in that auction house, the mother of them all was staring me in the face! ~

All eighteen inches of lamp base whispered my name!  And then, it shouted my name!

It begged me to look at the glorious detailing. ~

 A toothbrush and pipe cleaner will whisk away the dirt. ~ 

Maeve will provide the perfect foil for all that alabaster loveliness. ~

But, it is in the evening when my lamp will take my breath away! ~

Yes, I paid $70 for a lamp I didn't need.  Honestly, though, wouldn't you have done the same?

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

It Never Goes Out Of Style

Though I'm curing myself of my magazine hoarding affliction, I cannot give up back issues of Victoria magazine.  Today, I flipped through some April  issues and it struck me that I had to look at the date on the spine to have any idea what year the issue was published.

The 2003 issue had a painted cabinet, with wire mesh doors, that looks straight out of a Pinterest 2013 board. ~

Let's go back a little further to April 2001 and we find black and white toile fabric, a picture grouping of  vintage florals, postcards in an apothecary jar and a Wardian greenhouse.  The chair and the campaign table are painted black.  Oh, and check out the lovely hardwood floor!

This room would be very 2013 chic. ~

But, what about way, way back in April 1994?  Oh my, a chippy, old white door, a galvanized metal watering can and flowers and herbs in old bottles and jars! ~

No matter how far I go back, the simple, vintage look retains it's charm.

I took a wee peak at the Victoria models.  If I had invested in quality clothing, would the styles be classic or dated?

This cocktail dress from 2003 would still work.  Chandelier earrings would be nice, but I think the candelabra ring is a bit over the top. ~

And how about this hairdo, linen dress and vest?  A natural fibre like linen will last forever, properly cared for.  Would you ever guess this is April, 1994?  The big trick would be still fitting into it! ~

Fashion comes and goes, but simple, natural, honest design is timeless.

I'm never giving up those magazines!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Union Jack Side Table

I know you aren't supposed to call the flag of Great Britain a Union Jack unless it is flying from a navy ship, but it sounds so much nicer than Union Flag.  After making a patchwork pennant in this style, I swore I'd never do that flag again!  However, when Farm Girl needed a bedside table I decided to give it one more go.    
This baby is all geometry! ~

I'm not going to actually measure this thing out and I have an old flag to use as a guideline.  Utah thinks it makes a lovely sleeping spot.  If you notice any errors, just chalk it up to the cat lying on that part of the pattern. ~

Either I didn't take a before picture or I deleted it. Sorry. Just imagine a scratched, gouged, cheesy wood finish on a sturdy Palliser bedside table.  It was a sweet bargain at $3.99 in the Salvation Army Thrift Store. As you know I'm not fond of sanding, so I gave it a light coat of  Benjamin Moore Fresh Start primer instead.

Then, all but the drawers got two coats of  BM CC-870 (Jet Blue).  The drawers got two coats of BM CC-50 (White Down).

Now, start taping and paint the centre cross in BM 2086-10 (Exotic Red) ~

DO NOT take the tape off, like I did!  You are going to need those lines.

Start taping and taping and taping. When the tape is removed, I'll have the white lines of the flag showing from the over all white coat underneath.~

Doing the flag on the front made it a little more tricky than going with the flat top.  My thought was that the top would be partially covered by a lamp and the stuff we all pile on a bedside table.  So, I went the hard route.  I highly recommend that you use Frog tape for this kind of a project.  I was disappointed with the amount of bleed through under the tape and it took a lot of touching up to clean up the lines.  That could have been easily fudged if Farm Girl wanted it distressed.  Sadly, her text said, "New paint, please".  Sure, honey, let's drag this project out!

The hardware finish was in bad shape and I used an egg carton to hold it upright for a coat of Old Masters Aged Bronze.  Worked like a charm! No pic of it painted but you see it on the finished table. ~

What would be nicer than snuggling down with a vintage book and a cup of tea in a Royal Grafton QE silver anniversary mug?  I think I should give Farm Girl this mug, don't you?  Shhhh - don't tell her I only paid 25 cents for it.

Get out of there Maeve!  I put the dresser beside the patio doors to try and get some sunlight for pictures and, anyway, it's none of her business what I'm doing. ~

Excuse me, I had no idea you wanted a spot of tea! ~

I was actually going to drink that tea.  Now it has cat spit in it!

It appears both my cats are royalists and they will be wild with excitement when the new prince/princess arrives.  Farm Girl is more apt to feel it plays homage to British bands like The Smiths, that kept her company during her teenage angst years.

Of course, I said I'll never do another Union flag after finishing this piece.  Then again, I love it so much I just may do .....  NO, NO, NO! ~

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