Check out this funny set of vintage measuring cups!
I’ve never seen anything like these before. I tested them against my own measuring cups and they came out way off. I imagined cooks of yore, scooping out flour and sugar with whatever they had on hand. Or those 19th century recipes that just list ingredients – the cooking equivalent of taking the ball and running with it. That’s my favourite way to cook, so these may be the perfect measuring cups after all.
There is also evidence in this picture that I finally conceded to a months-old obsession with a pair of small hunting dog prints. I had to stretch as tall as I could to unhook them from the barn rafter – my belly bumping into a bookshelf full of breakables. It was worth the contortionist act for a little bit of classic lodge style.
I had to get them because they remind me of our own clumsy hunting dog, Bucky. Bucky the Black and Tan Coonhound cross doesn’t exactly hunt, but he has all of the instincts. He’s always staring off into the distance, brow furrowed, in deep concentration. If he spots something, he’s off at breakneck speed, attempting to “tree” a chipmunk or a deer. He has the entire property mapped out, and religiously checks all of his hotspots (i.e. the places he’s encountered animals before) every chance he gets. If he saw a squirrel running the fence line during his window patrol three hours before, he’ll bolt down there as soon as the door opens – just in case.
I can't resist. I see one at the side of the road, I have to stop. Driving through residential neighbourhoods on large item garbage day, my eyes dart wildly at every curb, checking and re-checking the trashpiles like a problem gambler at a bingo game.
Last time this happened, I scored a unique chair with a heart pattern drilled into the seat, and a wooden rocking chair - 100% free!
Those ones above were discovered on a bike ride, hidden in the woods where two tiny gravel roads meet. They had ancient, hideous, crumbling woven seats - which I cut away to spare you. They're a little wobbly right now, but they're high, barstool-like chairs that are brimming with potential. Don't you agree?
Keep an eye out for the big makeover!
There was the most perfect black chair, with turned legs and a tooled leather seat, that I spotted at the Antique Barn last Saturday. I passed it up, but I've been coveting it hard all week. Don't you hate that? **crossing my fingers that it's still there this weekend!**
1. Spot a humble hand-made sign that reads "Yard Sale".
2. Drive by. Does it look any good?
3. Wow! It does!
4. Start to get excited.
5. Pull over. Glimpse piles of furniture through the trees.
6. Enter a wonderland of antiques - scattered on a giant lawn, under tents, stacked high in garage.
7. Ask husband, "Have I died and gone to heaven?"
As it turned out, this wasn't exactly a yard sale, but the clever marketing tactics of an antiques dealer. I only came with eight dollars cash in my wallet, so it meant browsing only. I spied a huge pinwheel quilt, time-worn and butter-soft, at least a generation or two old. At a regular yard sale, I might have a chance. But this was a dealer, and I'd never seen a hand-quilted vintage gem like that in antique shops for less that $75.
It couldn't hurt to ask.
Me (gingerly): How much are you asking for the quilt that's hanging over there? *smile*
Antique Lady: Oh that one? I'd say that one is...uh...eight dollars?
Exactly the amount I had in my wallet! I tried to act nonchalant so she wouldn't change her mind, emptied out my wallet, hugged it tight and scurried back to the truck. It was MY quilt! It was meant for me! The talented lady who created it must have been smiling down on me from heaven, counting up my change and making my wish come true.
And I won't let her down! You'd think it was my very own family heirloom, I'm so attached to it. The picture above is not it, here is half of it on the clothesline:
The picture at the top of the post is actually another brilliantly lucky find - a handstitched quilt top constructed out of vintage fabrics - scrunched up on the thrift store shelf for three dollars! This woman had a great eye for combining colours (don't you love the maroon and turquoise with the pink?):
I'm going to try and finish it myself as a practice exercise. I've never quilted anything - so I'll try my best not to ruin it!
I almost feel guilty, buying two incredible labours of love for a grand total of eleven dollars. But they're in a good home now, ready for many years of quilt-ly duty.
Well I don't have a One Local Summer meal this week. (I actually contemplated buying a giant zucchini, taking one bite out of the side of it, and taking a picture for you. But I didn't want to snark on the concept of OLS - which has been one of the highlights of my summer!)
Since I made this on a whim today using local popcorn, I thought I might be able to sneak it in as my "meal". It was so good I can hardly contain my excitement.
OMG Kettle Corn!!!!
Check out this thing I found brand new in the box at Goodwill - a stove-top popcorn popper called the WhirleyPop:
It's from Williams-Sonoma and DANG - if it doesn't make the best popcorn I've ever had. It gets every kernel popped thanks to the little gizmo inside that stirs the bottom of the pot as you turn the handle:
It came with a recipe booklet, and I made the "Sweet Touch" popcorn that glazes every kernel in a light coating of sugar. It's just 1/3 cup of popcorn, 4 tbsp of oil, and 4 tbsp of sugar.
Why not make a meal out of it? :)
And speaking of nifty kitchen stuff, have you seen these?
Reusable silicone baking cups? They work beautifully and wipe clean.
My apologies for the lack of meal. I'll try to end with a bang!
We've been reading this book, enjoying the stories of various cabins throughout North America that are 1,200 square feet or less. I love how the author defines a cabin - it has made me rethink the way I want to live in my own home. Roughly paraphrasing:
Cabins are connected to the outdoors. They are a part of their landscape and the boundary between outside and inside is relaxed.
Cabins are about family. These intimate shared spaces bring families closer together, and are often decorated with family memorabilia that has been collected over the years.
Cabins are small. Space must be used creatively to display these beloved items and store everyday essentials.
Our cabin certainly is small. And because we're lucky enough to call it home year-round, we definitely need to get more creative about how we use the space. My lightbulb moment: We need to live a real "log cabin life", and our clutter is getting in the way! So I came up with a way that will make clearing out the excess stuff we've accumulated easy. One simple question:
Would you pack this item if you were going on a cabin getaway?
The logic here is very appealing to me - why not live every week like a vacation at the cabin or cottage? You'd only have the bare essentials, only the things you need to keep you clothed, groomed, fed, and entertained. In other words, you'd set up your house as if you were staying at the family cabin for the week. What essentials would you need to feel happy and comfortable during your stay?
Think about it!
The closet would only contain your favourite clothes. The cupboards would stock just enough dishes and pots and seasonings to make your meals. You'd have just enough craft supplies to work on the projects you really want to do "during your vacation". You'd jump up and go for a bike ride, or a walk through the woods, because you wouldn't be overwhelmed by the clutter of your "real" home.
This makes me wonder - what if people go on vacations just to get away from their stuff???? What if making your home as close to a vacation home as possible is the key to having a vacation mindset all year long? Of course, home represents the ultimate in comfort to just about everyone, and most people actually look forward to returning home after being on vacation. But what if you could combine the familiarity of home with the freedom of the cottage?
Day-to-day life might get much simpler, much cozier and much more fun!
For instance, if you were vacationing at the family cabin, what would you do after the week is up? You'd replenish the pantry foods that you'd eaten, and replace the sheets and towels. You'd gather up the laundry that you'd worn that week and wash it. And then you'd do a quick clean-up. None of this would stress you out. After all, you'd only have to put away the few things that you'd brought along with you. Sure, the cabin might get a little dusty and the bathtub will need cleaning, but you'd just be shining everything up for the next people who were going to stay there.
And those next people would be YOU! Doesn't that sound like a peaceful way to live?
I'm going to do my best to have this authentic "log cabin life", and let you know how it goes! So far, we've attacked our bedroom and donated everything we don't wear. We have a tiny little closet, not much more than the above "pegs and chest" set-up that was so popular in the 1600's!! But now we don't think it's too small. It's all we need - because we'll only be here for the week, you know! ;)
***Illustration above by Eric Sloane, from the book American Yesterday.
Peppers are finally popping up at the markets - so I happily decided on veggie fajitas and pico de gallo for this week's One Local Summer meal. This was my first time making tortillas - these are whole wheat ones using this recipe (substituting oil for shortening). They were great! They look just like Indian chapatis...I guess there are plenty of Indian-Mexican similarities, eh Natalie? :)
And look closely - see what else is popping up these days? Ontario Yellow Plums! I've been downing these local beauties two by two every day this week.
Wanting to use up the last of the blueberries I'm seeing in the stores, I also baked this mostly-local Blueberry Buckle with streusal topping. I'd cut into it and show you a piece, but I've got to bring it to a birthday party tomorrow for my grandmother-in-law:
You're never too old for a nice buckle! ;)
Thanks for stopping by!
Been looking forward to this all summer - the annual Potato Parade. It's the quintessential small town parade - full of Shriners and bagpipe bands and firetrucks. This is a farming town that celebrates the annual potato harvest, so you'll also see lots of tractors and harvesters - even Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.
I squeal with delight (as much as the little kids) when the miniature ponies come along - some more willingly than others:
My favourite float was the Hillbilly Float, complete with (what else?!?) a log cabin:
There's a big polo tournament every year at a nearby farm. Last year I pulled up just as it ended. Hoping not to miss it this year! Thanks for reminding me, pretty polo player:
I just love these parades. All those fresh-faced folks, full of pride. Tiny little girls showing off their incredible gymnastic skills. Babies in fire helmets riding beside Daddy for the first time. Elderly men dancing the twist in full Service Club regalia. Youth groups belting out "Sweet Home Alabama". Clydesdales and guide dogs and upside down clowns. All marching down the main street for no real reason at all. Just because it's a parade. And that's what you do.
I almost get choked up, it's so sweet.
But this is a celebration of the potato! Not a blubber-fest for me. And in honour of the humble spud, here is the much-requested samosa recipe from my last post.
I have to warn you - I'm already becoming an Indian grandmother in that I never really measure anything and never write anything down. At least you'll be safe with the dough, which I found online and printable here. Every other recipe I saw used shortening (which I can't bring myself to use) and this one is all butter. It turned out flaky enough and was delicious. I did use a food processor, which is awesome for cutting in butter. I omitted the cumin seeds from the dough - I've never seen that before and was going for authenticity.
I wouldn't recommend the filling recipe from that article. Not authentic. I adapted my filling from a wonderful book called Indian Everyday by Anjum Anand. (Thanks, Suki!)
All quantities are approximate. Just feel it!
Potato Samosa Filling
~ 3-4 medium waxy potatoes, boiled, skinned and cut into small dice.
~1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
~ 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
~ 1-1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
~ 1-1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds (brown or black)
~ 1 tsp ground cumin
~ 1/2 tsp coriander powder
~ Anjum adds mango powder - which I didn't have, but if you do, you should use it!
~ 1 sliced green chile - I used crushed red chile flakes.
~ 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, plus plenty more for frying
Heat a few tablespoons of oil and saute whole spices until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the ground spices and chilies and stir to coat, about 30 seconds. Then add the diced potatoes and peas and saute until potatos are all separated into little cubes and coated in spices and the peas are tender-crisp.
Once the filling is at room temperature and your dough is chilled, fill your samosas according to the link above. Fry both sides in about an inch of oil on medium heat, until deep golden brown.
Another dough option that I think might work, but I can never, ever find, are spring roll wrappers.
Thank you to everyone who visited and commented on the last post. Hope this recipe works for you!
Ready to get spicy? Put on your ghagra choli, because these fresh peas inspired this week's all Indian One Local Summer meal! I made paneer (soft cheese made from milk curds) from local whole milk. Perfect for Mattar Paneer - an awesome pea curry.
But I think we need more than just a taste of Mattar Paneer. We need to complete the meal with some famous Indian snacks!
The samosas were delightful - flour, butter & milk pastry filled with potatoes, peas and whole spices. (I'm happy to give you the recipe, if you're interested!)
And as promised in my last post, I made some fiery Indian corn on the cob. Lucky for me, my Indian in-laws let me in on the secrets of this salty, spicy, smoky treat. My father-in-law makes it the best, but I've tried to replicate it here. Wanna try it?
First mix up a little bowl of pepper, salt and chili powder, in roughly equal parts. I learned the hard way that you have to use bright orange Indian chili powder (the really spicy stuff) not the dark red American kind. Cayenne pepper might do in a pinch.
Now it's time to fire-roast your corn on the barbeque. Throw the shucked corn directly on the grill, no need for oil. Keep an eye on it and rotate until it's slightly charred on all sides:
Now take half a lime, dip the cut end in your spice mix:
And rub it all over, squeezing the juice over the corn as you rub.
Now you've got an evenly seasoned, hot & tangy ear of corn and you're ready to tuck in!
Your lips will burn but you will love it!
Everything you've seen here was all-local except the salt, spices, oil, and (of course) the lime. Is that cheating? I don't think I will see a local lime in my lifetime - maybe I could keep a little tree indoors? Citrus and tropical fruits might be worth moving for, though ;)
Hmm....maybe to India? :)
A recent trip to the thrift store yielded all cool-weather finds. The red basket it giant, and I can't wait to use it at Christmas time. I'll load it full of gifts, boughs, firewood... not sure yet!
I was also delighted to find two identical remnants of reversible, wool-like fleece. My plans for these are "his and hers" throws - blanket stitched and initialed for those cuddly winter nights on the couch. The peg hooks and divided basket were thrown in on impulse - I can't resist rustic cabin stuff!
It felt odd to haul my "basket full of fall" out to the truck on a steamy summer day. The same funny feeling I had when I was a kid, doing my back-to-school shopping way too early. But then I took a walk and discovered some evidence...
The wild apples are starting to get some colour:
And the Queen Anne's Lace is starting to go to seed!
Yipes! Maybe fall is closer than I thought.
Reminds me of a hilarious commerical for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which I think may be only shown in Canada. A single, coloured leaf falls on the sidewalk in front of a happy, tank-top-sporting woman, who starts screaming in horror because it signals the end of summer. Because Canadian summers are so short, August is full of panicky moments like that! Just like the last day of the weekend, it's hard to fully enjoy. It's the Sunday of months.
But there was one thing hidden in that basket you can't see. Something that will make any end-of-summer laments a little more bearable.
The cutest lilac linen apron with crocheted trim:
Reminds me that there are plenty more flip-floppin' - corn-on-the-cobbin' - marshmallow-roastin' - bare-leg sportin' - sunscreen smearin' - wildflower-pickin' days of summer left. I plan to enjoy them all!
Back soon with more exciting second-hand finds (my luckiest ever!) and an fiery recipe for corn on the cob - straight from the streets of Mumbai!