Monday, May 16, 2011

Blueberry Upsidedown Breakfast Cake

 I have no idea where I stole this recipe from, so if the owner of this is out there somewhere please let me know and I will credit you.  I bought fresh blueberries on sale so I wanted to make a breakfast coffee cake type thing for the weekend.  Scouring through my cookbooks and all of the recipes I have input on Plan To Eat  I try to stay away from recipes with a long ingredient list.  To me that is a sign that it will take too long to make, and for a breakfast cake I want quick and simple.  

I was very surprised that this went together quickly.  It was so tasty I think I ate half the cake myself while it was still warm.  Best tip is to eat it while it is still warm, not to say that it is not as good the next day, but when the cake is warm and the topping is still gooey it is truly an experience to savour.  

This Cake is vegan but dose not taste in the slightest that it is missing out on anything. I altered a few of the ingredients, like using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, I only had whole wheat flour at the time and using lime juice instead of lemon juice, I just like lime better.  I would love to know if anyone would substitute anything else in this recipe.  I was thinking of making it with raspberries the next time I made it. Enjoy!

Blueberry Upside Down Breakfast Cake


2 cups blueberries or mixed berries
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons non-dairy butter
1 tablespoon flax meal
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup canola oil (or other mild cooking oil)


Cream together butter and sugar and spread evenly over the bottom of a 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Arrange berries over butter and sugar.

In a small bowl (I used a remekin), mix together flax meal and water. Set aside to thicken.

Place lemon juice and zest into a glass measuring cup. Add soy milk to make 1 cup. This lemony soy milk will curdle and thicken. Leave it to do its thing, but stir before adding to the dry ingredients.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Make a well in the center and add the flax mixture, oil, and lemony milk.

Stir to combine.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Immediately invert onto a plate before cooling.

What is your favourite Vegan Breakfast Cake?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Passover Everyone

We are having friends and family over for Passover Seder tonight.  I am looking forward to good food and the warmth that only comes from having your loved ones around.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekend adventure to Niagara Falls

Sunday April 10th 2011 I awoke with a burning desire for an adventure.  It was a lovely day and the temperature was to go up to at least 20 degrees, and it would be a shame to spend the day indoors doing laundry and cleaning the house.

Sam was up first and I discussed my idea with him.  Of course he was game; my boy is always up for an adventure, especially when it involves Niagara Falls and midway games and mini golf.

Shawn would be the difficult one to convince, since he would be the one driving.  How often do we get the chance to have a day of fun and adventure, when we do not have prearranged appointments or plans?  A day doing nothing should at least be spent doing something fun.

Now that the day is over and we did indeed have a great time, here are the things I noticed upon reflection.

  1. An hour and a half car ride goes by much more quickly when you listen to a book on tape.  The only drawback was that conversation was at a minimum and we as a family love to talk.

  1. We had a long conversation about the power of nature and how it is able to draw a crowd.  My thought was that when you have such massive and beautiful natural wonders, there are no way buildings or parking lots or strip malls can be built on top of it and there are so few of these places left in the world.  Shawn’s thought was that locations like this are a constant reminder to us that nature is not to be controlled by man.

  1. Sometimes there is nothing better than a root beer float made to perfection with the correct ratio of root beer to ice cream.  We explained this to the woman behind the counter that made our drinks and complemented her and she told us that her parents owned an A&W drive in when she was young.  There is something to be said for learning a craft well, even if said craft is a root beer float.

  1. Playing midway games is exciting and fun, but as a parent that has paid twenty dollars, it is hard to remember the fun after the fact when the prizes your son comes away with are a Frisbee, a tiny plastic dinosaur and a green electric guitar key chain.  To him it was not about the prizes it was about the bright flashing lights and the games of chance and playing with his parents.  The prizes at the end were just an extra added bonus.

  1. Playing mini golf is best when you win, but much better when there are no egos involved and you are there just to have fun.

  1. Eating too much pineapple is never a good thing.

  1. Spending time as a family laughing and having fun is a rarity these days and that must change.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Rid of Cable

As of March 28, 2011 we are no longer subscribing to a cable service.

For a while now I have been wanting to cancel our cable television subscription but was met with much resistance from my husband and son.  Slowly putting the idea in their head and reinforcing it from time to time, (OK it took about a year) I had at least caused them to think about their television consumption.  

As a family there was only four prime time shows that we watched.

Myself, the only show I watched with any sort of regularity was the Weather Network every morning.  i have since downloaded an app to my laptop, so I can check the weather status every day.

My husband really didn’t watch that much at all, usually just out of boredom or to watch a movie or play on the Wii.  He has never been a cable television junkie.  My son would watch the children’s channel when he got home from school to decompress from the day.  That was all.  When we actually sat down and closely inspected our total consumption it was an obvious choice to make.  Why pay for something you use only sporadically and could easily find a replacement for?  Why indeed.

Do you have any idea how freeing that feeling is not to be tied down to a machine.  I was amazed.  I am looking forward to reading more, spending time with my family at the dinner table instead of in front of the TV, playing more games as a family.  It is truly sad how much family time the television takes away from us.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting Rid of Paper Clutter

This week's challenge on Simple Mom was to Simplify Paper Clutter.  This is a very difficult area for me because we eliminated most of our paper clutter a year or so ago.  But I thought I would explain how we did it.

All receipts for all purchased items including food gets inputted into PearBudget .  Then the receipt either gets thrown out or if may be needed in the future (proof of purchase re electronics or to keep a warranty valid), the receipt is kept in a file in the filing cabinet

Junk mail is immediately thrown out.

Any items that are to be put into a scrapbook goes into a specific drawer to be scrapped at a later date.

School work is stacked in a basked on Sam's desk and we go through it once a month to throw out anything that is no longer needed.

Paper clutter was the one thing that was overwhelming us.  Until we took control we were drowning. Now with a bit of effort and a place for everything we are much happier with what comes into the house.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sustainable Living

Different ways of doing things.

I have been thinking about living a more sustainable life for a while now.  Starting has been slow going with all the research I have been doing along the way.  I want to do things right and I don’t want to get overwhelmed by going to fast. I know I could be doing better and get to the end result much quicker than I am at now, but there are things that hold me back and that keep me conflicted.

Is it better to throw out a bottle of cleaner or bottle of shampoo than to wait until it is all used up?  Is it really that safe to ride my bike on the busy city streets where there are no bike lanes? Is vinegar really a safe and effective cleanser for the kitchen.

I no longer buy paper towels
I no longer use shampoo or conditioner
I no longer buy moisturizer
I use only vinegar as a cleanser in the bathroom
I use a steam mop to clean my floors and don’t use chemicals any longer.
I keep the thermostat in the house below 70 degrees and it is programmed that when we are asleep or away it is down to 65 degrees.
We no longer have a bath tub in the house and only have quick showers.
We eat at least 3 meals a week that are vegetarian or vegan

This is only a small effort so far but at least it is progressing in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Poo

For about 2 months now I have not shampooed my hair.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it.  I have read and researched quite a bit on how to spend less money on stuff and how to become more environmentally friendly.  By not buying bottles of shampoo and conditioner and using only natural ingredients, this seemed to kill two birds with one stone.

When my shampoo and conditioner ran out I started using baking soda to wash my hair, apple cider vinegar to rinse and coconut oil to smooth it out.

I keep a jar with a sealed lid of baking soda with a tablespoon and a plastic cup (you know the kind that you bought about 5 years ago and always have around to keep beer in when you have a party and you can never seem to get rid of) in the shower to wash my hair.  I put a bit less than the tablespoon of soda in the cup and fill it with water.  I pour it over my head and then massage my scalp for a few minutes than rinse.  It took a bit to figure out what amount of baking soda worked for my head.  Everyone is different.  Too much and my hair felt heavy after washing and too little and it didn’t seem to do it’s job.

Next I have a spray bottle with one part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water that I spray all over my hair.  I usually let this sit and soak while I finish in the shower and then rinse it out.

I let my hair air dry and if my hair has a mind of its own and becomes frizzy or goes every different direction then I take a small amount of coconut oil, rub it in my hands and then smooth my hair down.

I have found that I have to wash my hair about every 3 days.

In the two months time, this is the changes I have noticed with my hair.

  • Much more body – not as limp and lifeless
  • Less tangles
  • Holds its colour much longer
  • Less hair loss

Cost of this was

1.00 baking soda container
1.00 vinegar spray bottle
3.00 apple cider vinegar (I have used only ¼ of the bottle in 2 months)
2.00 baking soda (I have only used about 1/3 of the box in 2 months although I also use the same box for)
4.00 coconut oil (I have used 1.3 of the jar in 2 months although I also have been using the same jar for cooking and as a moisturizer)

Total cost of 11.00 which will last me probably the entire year and the environmental impact for the year will be nil.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meal Planning

Continuing with the Plan to eat and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution the next item was the Cracking Burger (Page 147)
Called the Cracking Burger because it is just so cracking good.  Got to love the British and their terminology.

This burger was perfection. I did use ground chicken over beef, bread crumbs instead of crushed crackers and basil instead of parsley (I really think I need to go out and buy some fresh parsley for next week’s recipes).  This recipe I found very similar to the meatballs in the ingredients used.  It made a very sturdy burger the cooked up quick enough and the flavours were marvelous.  It took about the same amount of time as thawing and cooking frozen burgers and these were so much more tasty.  It was a hit with everyone and I will be making this again.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

To continue with the Jamie Oliver and Plan to Eat meal plans, although I am so far behind because of illness, I am posting the Crunchy Garlic Chicken (Page 241) with Dressed Asparagus (Page 215)

This was the second time I have made this chicken recipe and we loved it just as much as the first time.   Again I substituted bread crumbs for the crushed crackers and the only other substitution I made with this recipe was to but in rosemary and basil instead of parsley, not that I have anything against parsley, just that I had the rosemary and basil on hand.

The Asparagus was wonderful.  Sam ate it which was a testament to how good this recipe really is.  For the dressing I placed all ingredients in a jam jar and just shook it up to mix, which was much easier than whisking it together in a bowl, less dishes too.

I also made the Fruit Scones (Page 331) dessert that evening as well.
I didn’t have any clotted cream so butter had to do.  They were not my typical biscuit recipe, these scones were much more dense and heavy, but tasty none the less.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food Revolution and Plan to Eat

Over the next while I will be making and reviewing recipes in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Food Revolution .  Plan to Eat has a great challenge going on right now to plan meals around the cook book and since I already own and frankly love the cookbook, I thought I would follow along.  This is also great that someone else will be making the meal plan decisions for me for the next little while.

Day 1 was Spaghetti and Meatballs (Page 149)

I loved the meatball recipe.  It went together very quickly although I did use bread crumbs instead of crushed crackers.  I also substituted ground chicken for ground beef.  The meatballs stood up very well and cooked quickly.  For the sauce the only alteration I made was to whiz it with a hand blender to make a smooth and not a chunky sauce. Personally I would have preferred the chunky but the boys in my house do not like tomato chunks.  Woe is me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Simple Mom Challange

Simple Mom  has started a challenge regarding cleaning the house.

I have decided to join because I always need an extra boost in motivation when it comes to cleaning.

Week 1 is focused on the closets.  This is difficult for me because I think I have weeded through my closet as much as I can, but we'll see about that.  We have a slit closet, which we had my clothes in one side and Shawn's in the other.  About a month ago we switched around so that both of our clothes were in one side and the other had the off season clothes.  The side that we combined our clothes in is easier to get to which made it much less frustrating for the person who had the unfortunate luck of having the hard to get to side.

But to accommodate both of our wardrobes we had to pare down quite a bit.  About 3 garbage bags full went to charity.  Who knew closets held so much.

This week will be my challenge to see if I can make the closet even more roomier.  I will also add the dresser drawers to the challenge.  I know I can get my drawers down to be a bit more sparse.  I seem to have an unexplainable attachment to t-shirts though.  I will post again on Friday with progress.

Todays Closets

Left side is all winter clothes, right side summer

dresser drawers

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the less clutter we live in the less cluttered our lives are.

the less clutter we live in the less cluttered our lives are.  

A simple home, where everything has its place, multitasking on items
A clean home, where last minute dinner guests can show up without inducing stress
A calm home where mornings are spent enjoying time with the family and not rushing around to try to find a book or the keys to the car

These are my hopes for my home in 2011.

How I will be accomplishing this is by:
  1. eliminating clutter in each room of the house
  2. reorganizing each room to maximize the living space
  3. get rid of unused items. The idea that I may use it some day does not work any longer
  4. replace old, worn and inefficient items with newer more efficient items
  5. donate old toys, clothing and unused items to shelters or charities
  6. don’t buy anything new unless it has a specific purpose
Going through each room I am amazed to find things that at one point I thought were really important and now with my new way of thinking I realize that its only purpose was to collect dust.  My emotional attachment to certain objects have been eliminated due to the fact that it is just getting in the way.  An example of this is a very large stuffed animal that my sister brought home from Germany for me when I was in high school.  It was a mascot of the Olympics that year.  It is huge and I always thought is was very kind of my sister to stuff that animal in her suitcase and bring it all the way back for me.  Now 20 some odd years later I only see it as a matted fraying thing that I really cannot identify (cross the abominable snowman with a teddy bear) and cannot find a place for.  I also cannot think of any other person who would want this (my son was afraid of it when he was little).

Since I am the only one in our house at the moment that if gung ho on minimizing our clutter, I have to be respectful of the rest of my family.  To accomplish this I have bought more storage.  Shelving and bins that are attractive and have clean lines have replaced the mounds of clutter in each room.  The only rule I have imposed on my boys is that once the shelf or bin is full then they have to pare down their items to fit.  I will never be the person that own only 100 items and I am OK with that.  My minimalist goal it to be comfortable in my home with my family, to clean less and laugh more.  As long as everything has its place and is contained, that is the best I can hope for right now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


One of my goals for this new year was to limit my yelling.  I am a yeller, I don’t think I have anger management issues, I think mostly it is frustration management issues.  

For this year, I have decided that each day as part of my journaling I will write the times that I yell, the reasoning behind it and if it was warranted or not.  If it was not necessary to yell, than I will write ways on which it could be handled differently.  Accountability is a key issue for me this year.

One of the most important reasons that I want to halt the yelling in my family is for my son.  I have accepted the fact when my son was born that every parent screws up their child in some way or another.  It is inevitable. But if you constantly look to yourself and try your best then the degree of screwed-upness may be limited.

Mothers yell out of anger, frustration or fear.  Yelling is natural and necessary at certain points in teaching your child the ways of the world. We yell at our child to keep him out of danger; ‘don’t run onto the road’ or ‘don’t touch the hot stove’. We yell at our child out of frustration; ‘how many times do I have to tell you to pick up your socks and not leave them on the living room couch’ or ‘why did you hit your cousin, hitting is never acceptable’.  We yell at our child out of anger; ‘you broke the glass because you were balancing it on your head, what did you think was going to happen’.

The trouble I have with yelling at my son is I feel like crap after, and I wonder what my yelling does to his self esteem and confidence.

My son is eleven.  I told him that this was going to be my goal for the year and that I would be writing in my journal all the times that I yelled and why.  I also told him that I needed his help.  To help out his mom, he has to let me know when I am yelling at him when he thinks it’s unnecessary.  I also said he has to be more aware of the things he does that cause me to yell at him.

Yesterday we had a discussion on yelling and I asked him how I was doing. His answer to me was very telling.  He said that I was doing great (said with sincerity and not his usual sarcasm) but after he asked me how he was doing.  That thoughtfulness was what made me think that my goal is helping him with his esteem.  He is actually thinking about his actions and how they effect others.

By writing in my journal the times that I have yelled, I have been noting a pattern.  Lately the yelling has centered around my son not respecting things, for example, he wrote on a computer mouse with a blue marker, a mouse that we only got 2 weeks prior.  It was the lack of respect that angered me and I was frustrated that we have had this similar argument before.  So writing it out I was able to see clearer and come up with solutions.  The thing that was the light bulb moment for me was realizing that he is very respectful to people and just needs to carry that over to objects and that I needed to tell him that.  So even though I yelled at him, we both got positive results from it, my realization him hearing that he does have good qualities, even if they are not pointed out immediately.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year New Goals

Shoot for the moon because even if you miss you land among the stars!

I hate New Years Resolutions.  To me it is a way for people to create opportunities to feel guilty about their shortcomings.  Every year I make a secret resolution to loose weight or create more or make more money and then by the time February rolls around I feel guilty because I have done nothing to help my resolution along or I have tried and I have failed miserably.

This year I am doing things differently.  I have created goals for the year, not a month, not something to accomplish immediately but an entire year to become a better me, one step at at time. Common sense right, so why didn't I think of it before?

I have set goals in the past, but I am fairly certain I did it all wrong.  I have set goals without any direction or a clear path to follow.  I basically set myself up for failure.

So I am going to go to school on goal setting.  Research not only how to accomplish my set goals but how to be productive in the goal setting.  Confusing right?  Not really.

So what have I found out?

Step 1 - Write every goal down in a place that is accessible.  For me this will be in my google documents. I can revisit and revise the goals as necessary on any computer.  I am a big fan of lists and bullet points. Each goal I have set has its own list of  bullet points within that I would like to accomplish and how to go about doing so. Organized and detailed is the way I like to be in most aspects of my life, why not goal setting.  Being as detailed as possible with the goal only makes it easier to to see things in a straight line and makes focus that much easier.  I have thought for a while about keeping a journal, thought that it would be a great discipline, but I never did start one mostly because I thought I would have nothing to write about.  Writing about my goals and the steps I am taking to achieve them, now that's a novel concept.

Step 2 -  Set up a time every day to focus on the goals at hand. I have chosen first thing in the morning.  Yes it means getting up earlier but it has been a wonderful way to start my day, with a cup of tea and my laptop.  I find it is like clearing out the cobwebs and starting each day fresh.  OK granted I have only done it two days in a row and this morning I had to convince myself that this was still a good idea, but in the end it was a great morning.  For each of my goals I write a paragraph on how I will work toward getting one step closer each day, it may be small or it may be a grand gesture.  At this point it really doesn't matter, as long as I can write one thing down every day to maintain focus and not give up.  That way set backs will not be disabling, just another step in a long line.

Step 3 - Forgive myself for the slip ups, set backs and a lack of motivation.  I am not running a race nor am I in competition with anyone else.  These goals were created by me and I can set my own rules and regulations.  Mistakes and mishaps are just a part of life, they are inevitable really if we want to life a full and complete life.

Each day is a new chance for moving forward. No longer will I wait in the wings for something to get me motivated to get going.