Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Upcoming Easter Menu, Mark I - with recipes

This year, "regular" Easter and Ukrainian Easter are the farthest apart they can be--five weeks. So Ukrainian Easter won't be until May this year! I'm saving the more traditional Ukrainian items like bitter beets for Ukrainian Easter.  Except for the mushrooms. Can't hold those back!

I got a lovely pork picnic shoulder for the ham this year, going to bake it in the slow cooker, then glaze it in it the oven.  Your typical brown sugar, Dijon mustard glaze. And I'm going to do that cross-hatching the fat and studding it with cloves thing, too. Yum! (An example is here, using maple syrup too! http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/classic-baked-ham-with-maple-mustard-glaze-10000001598619/)

Potato and mushroom bake is a fantastic side for a baked ham, a delightful combination of flavours that's really different from regular scalloped potatoes.  My only change is that I only use 1% milk, I find if I use cream it makes it too rich to eat as much as I want. :)  I also use Swiss Cheese instead of Gruy√®re.  http://www.muminawe.com/recipes/potato-and-mushroom-bake.html

My pidpenky will be prepared as I always do, according to my recipe on my learnpysanky website.   I'll be using mostly Portobello mushrooms this year, because I want this dish to be a little more robust this year. http://www.learnpysanky.com/recipes/pidpenky.html

And I'm going to try this delicious-sounding recipe for Bourbon mashed sweet potatoes I haven't tried before.  I might end up simmering the bourbon a bit longer than stated, as I do find sometimes when cooking with whiskey that the alcohol doesn't burn off enough and the dish ends up a bit harsh.  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_mashed_sweet_potatoes/

Uncle Steve's pickled eggs (see my recipe: http://www.learnpysanky.com/recipes/pickled-eggs.html) and my Habitant mixed pickles (http://mtpearl.colemans.ca/habitant-sweet-mustard-pickles-750-ml/)will round out the meal.

Dave's family recipe for pineapple whipped cream squares will be our dessert.  I buy canned whipped cream now, because I found it hard to use a whole container of it before it separates.  I know, talk about your first-world problems...

Super Simple Pineapple Whipped Cream Squares

Make a graham cracker crumb crust (you can buy the crumbs in most supermarkets, or buy the crackers and squish them up yourself).  About 1 1/4 cups of crumbs to 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter. Press into 9" pie plate or equivalent square bottom dish.

Drain a can of pineapple chunks or bits well.  Mix about 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of pineapple with whipped cream (enough to make the pineapple stick together nicely).  Spoon onto graham cracker crust.

That's it!  SOOOOO good, too. :)

Have a great Easter, everyone!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Local bees best?

I've heard several theories regarding bee colony collapse - a fungal infection, bees having an adverse reaction to GMOs, and the common practice of packing up and moving bees between fields and farms for mass pollination of one crop at a time leaving the bees with severely weakened immune systems (because it's natural to take pollen from several types of flowers -- you'd get sick too if all you ever ate for 3 days was asparagus, then candy for 3 days, then bread for another 3, etc.).

Connecting with this last point, they've done a study that says the "wild" bees (as opposed to the bees brought in for the mass pollination described above), actually do a better job of helping the plant reproduce, as "imported" bees tend to result in more plant inbreeding. 

They're now recommending that farms leave more untouched wilderness around their fields for "local" bees and other pollinators to live in, get a balanced diet in, and stay healthy.

Bees are a vital link in the food chain, their importance cannot be overestimated.

We've certainly enjoyed watching the many different type of pollinators, mini and bumble bees and more, since we let our backyard go "natural", it's full of long grasses, bluets and strawberries in the spring, clover and thistle in the summer, and goldenrod in the fall.  

Read more about wild bees and this latest study on the CBC.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Stompin' Tom has passed on...

Reported on the CBC, Canadian music icon Stompin' Tom died today.  He wrote some really awesome, down to earth songs about Canada, and Canadian topics, like hockey, and PEI potatoes.  All catchy, all easy to sing along to.  I think every Canadian knows at least one or two of his songs, if not more.  He will really be missed, as a minstrel of Canadian life.  :)

From the CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/03/06/stompin-tom-obit.html

Bud the Spud - about PEI potatoes!  And the Hockey Song - the good ol' hockey game.