Chris

 

June 1960 – March 2, 2008

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Chris

Chris

 

 

 

Homemade Lasagna

Making my own lasagna has always been a family favourite.  It’s not fancy or anything; pretty basic I’d say.  I find making Lasagna is one of the easiest things to do because you can make it before guests arrive or take it already cooked to a pot-luck supper.  We recently celebrated my son Taylor’s birthday so I made this lasagna at his request.

Wbaked

I usually make meat lasagna with local, lean ground beef from my favourite community grocer, the B & H (click here for their website).  You can always add other ground meat of your choice like chicken, turkey, sausage, or even lamb but I can’t guarantee how this modification would taste since I’ve never tried it.  I have also made vegetable lasagna to suit vegetarian guests.  And I’ve also added finely grated carrots to the meat sauce to discreetly increase the veggie content.  I use my large roasting pan to make the lasagna in because I like it thick.  It’s important to plan ahead.  You need to bake this lasagna for about 50 minutes, remove from the oven, THEN let it ‘sit’ for an hour, covered.  The juices need to absorb into the noodles so it stays together when you cut it.  If you cut it when it’s hot out of the oven it will fall apart.  It’s still tasty anyway.

This lasagna goes nice with a green salad and garlic bread.

 

Meat Lasagna Recipe – serves about 12 people

from my cookbook Mom’s Recipes

  • Lasagna noodles, uncooked store bought or homemade
  • 1-2 lbs. local, lean ground beef
  • 2 cans pasta sauce (680 ml. size) or your own homemade
  • 2 containers of 1% cottage cheese (500 ml. size each)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated (I use approximately 300 grams or about 2 cups grated)
  • Olive Oil

Steps:

  1. Brown ground beef until thoroughly cooked.  Add pasta sauce and mix will.
  2. Oil the roasting pan or other deep baking dish.
  3. Place a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan.  You might need to break some to fit them in.
  4. Place a thick layer of meat sauce (about ¾) over the lasagna noodles. Wsauce
  5. Top with another layer of noodles.
  6. Spread the cottage cheese over this layer of lasagna noodles.  Top with another layer of noodles. Wlayers
  7. Add another layer of meat sauce, reserving some for the last layer.  Top with another layer of noodles.
  8. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the lasagna noodles.  Top with a generous amount of grated mozzarella cheese. Wcheese
  9. Bake at 350F degrees uncovered for about 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on top of your stove or on a wire rack for an hour.

Slice into pieces.  The first one you take out should be the end piece, then you can easily lift out all the others.

For vegetarian lasagna, leave out the meat.  Add slightly cooked veggies of your choice:  broccoli, carrots, onions, celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, etc.   Everything else is the same.

You can make half as much of this recipe in a smaller baking dish.  Cut down the baking time by 10 minutes.  You might want to have leftovers as these lasagna pieces re-heat very well for your lunch of another supper.

Bon appetit!

Wmmmm

 

 

 

 

Yukon

 

Our dog Yukon died this week.  He was born in 1999 and joined our family soon afterwards.  Yukon was a pure Siberian Husky – his mother, Nanook, was a family pet from the area and his father  Anori, which means ‘with the wind’, was from the far north.

Yukon

Yukon

Yukon was very much a part of our family.  He was right alongside most of our children as they grew up.  I’ll never forget the first day we got him:  we didn’t tell the children we were getting a puppy.  When they got off the school bus, we were there waiting for them with Yukon.  They were beyond ecstatic!  Yukon loved the snow and cold.  Often he could hear small creatures under the snow or ice in the ditch and would dig furiously to find them.  Right up until the end, he went outside and made ‘doggy snow angels’ in the snow, rolling around like a little puppy.

I have to admit that I didn’t really want another dog.  Our old pup Dusty passed at 15 years old, just a few years before.  I said to Chris that we’d never, ever find another dog as good as Dusty so I didn’t want to get another dog.  I had one other dog growing up, Lady, a beagle- dalmation mix who lived for 12+ years.  My dogs lived a LONG time so it was a big commitment.  Chris told me sadly that he was never allowed a pet while growing up – he never had a dog or a cat to care for.  I caved and we bought Yukon.

When Yukon was a puppy, he was really a free spirit.  He had difficulty listening to us and would wander off and ignore us when we called him back.  It took us almost 3 years to get him to listen to us.  Overnight, we would keep him in the kitchen, blocked off with our coffee table turned on its side – we still have the teeth marks where Yukon chewed on the leg.  I don’t recall him chewing shoes or boots though.  We thought that our new dog would eat all the leftovers from the children just like Dusty but Yukon could not digest human food well at all.  After about 8-9 years, he began to eat small amounts of leftover meat and then almost anything eventually.

puppy Yukon and Marty

puppy Yukon and Marty

Yukon loved other dogs and cats too.  He was a mentor to the neighbourhood dogs like Oreo, Rusty, Lucy, Cody, and cousin Skye.  When Oreo and Skye were puppies, Yukon laid down and let them climb over him and nip his nose and paws like a good big brother.  When we had neighbourhood parties, the dogs would all play together as much as the children and adults.  We bought a hand crafted Dog Sled assuming that he would gladly pull the children in the snow but Yukon was not a sled dog and he’d rather have been ON the sled with the kids rather than pulling it.  Chris would have to lead him and run with him while he was pulling each child – what a site!

He loved to go for walks.  When he was younger, we walked every night at 6 p.m. down the road, past the farm and fields to the turn-around.  We would let Yukon off his leash after the farm so he could sniff till his heart’s content.  Once he spotted deer in the field and took off after them but amazingly came back when we called him.  He loved those walks.

Yukon did not like water.  When he was only a few years old, he met up with a skunk and had to be washed with tomato juice and hosed off.  His fur was very unique because it never soaked up water – liquid just rolled off.  I think Huskies have fur with little air pockets in each strand to keep them warm in the far north and they have some kind of water-repelling coating on them.  He never went playing in the river like other dogs – he’d just go up to his knees, that’s it.  He used to try to sneak away to visit his friends down the pebbled edge of the river when the water level was lowered in the fall.

He always looked clean too.  Yukon would grow a winter coat of soft fuzzy fur.  This would come out in the spring – all over the mudroom floor!  We bought a horse brush to use on him since dog brushes were ineffective.  It took until June or July for him to lose all his winter coat and he’d look half his size.  I would use the brushed fur as mulch in my garden because it matted down thickly and never decomposed.

together again

Chris and Yukon together again

The past few years have been tough for Yukon.  He couldn’t tolerate the heat and humidity like he use to so we’d make him stay in the house or garage where it was cooler.  Only this winter, was the cold too much for him.  We’ve have weeks and weeks of Extreme Cold Warnings and Frostbite Advisories.  Yukon still wanted to go out back to his ‘spot’ and lay down like he always used to love doing.  But he didn’t grow his warm winter coat this year.  On these really cold days, I would only let him stay outside for 15 minutes up to 2 hours depending on how cold it was.  He must have been getting deaf too because he wouldn’t hear me call him in or maybe he just didn’t want to come inside.  I’d have to get all my winter gear on and walk down his path and make him slowly stand up and come up to the house with me – every single time this winter.  He’s been sleeping on his bed out in the mudroom where it’s cooler for years but this winter we brought him into the kitchen.  I think he liked being closer to us anyway even though we had a glass door to the mudroom that he could look through.   After Taylor moved back to the city, I took him for walks along our road several times a day.  On his last morning, he walked as normally as he always did, sniffing other doggy smells and marking his spots.  In the afternoon, he suddenly started to stagger and collapsed.

We’ve been pretty shaken by his passing.  Yukon was a treasured member of our family.  Today I went outside to empty the woodstove ash bucket and saw his footprints in his path in the back yard.  I started to cry and took a photo before the wind obliterates it with snow forever.

Yukon's backyard path

Yukon’s backyard path

Rest in peace Yukon.  You will be missed.

 

 

 

Ice Lights

It’s been extremely cold lately with Frostbite Advisories issued every day for nearly two weeks. I thought I’d share a fun activity that you could do yourself or with your family that requires cold weather – Ice Lights for the outdoors.
You would think that ice and fire don’t go together but as many opposites, these two components work pretty good together in the right conditions. During many cold winters, I’ve made Ice Lights which are basically frozen ice candle holders for outdoors. Here’s how:

1.  I use a 5 gallon bucket for a big ice light but you can use any type of plastic bucket or even a tin can. Make sure it has straight sides for the ice to slide out when frozen. Place the bucket outside in the shade on a flat surface – you will not move it until this project is complete.

2.  First, I put a layer of water several inches deep in the bottom and let it freeze overnight. This layer is where the candle will eventually sit when the project is complete.

WaterBottom

 

3.  Wash out empty tin cans – tall pasta cans work well. Fill the can with rocks to weigh it down. After the first layer has frozen, place the empty tin can in the middle of the bucket on top of the frozen layer.

4.  Carefully and slowly add enough water to fill the bucket up to 1/2 inch from the rim of the tin can. Make sure that NO water enters the tin can. Do NOT move. You may need to place a flat rock on top of the tin can to keep it in place.

CanonFrozenWater
5.  Let the water freeze for at least 24-48 hours. Cover if snow is expected.

6.  Bring the frozen bucket into the house. Let it sit in the kitchen or laundry sink for a few hours to let it warm up.

7.  Take the rocks out of the inside tin can, if you are able. Add hot water to the inside of the tin can. Wiggle and turn it until the ice around it melts enough to release it. Take it out.

8.  Put a towel in the sink and turn the frozen bucket of water upside down. When it warms up enough, it will release itself from the bucket. You can speed up the process a bit by streaming hot water over the bucket – not on the ice inside.

9.  Once the ice has been released from the bucket, take your Ice Light outside and put it where you want to create mood lighting. As always, keep clear of combustibles. Add a candle and light it when it’s dark outside. Voila! You will have a beautiful glowing light.

IceLight

 

Once we made these Ice Lights and placed them along the driveway for our skating party. They lit the way for our guests beautifully against the snow.

 

100_3742

Eaton Place

 

When I was growing up, I lived in a child’s dreamland on a little street called Eaton Place. The neighbourhood was built after World War ll in the early 1950s and was home to low income, hard working families. Most of the Dads were war veterans and most of the Moms stayed at home and raised the children. There were hundreds of kids in our neighbourhood.

Moms & kids of Eaton Place

Moms & kids on Eaton Place

All the backyards were unfenced in those days so we had one huge yard to play in – tag, kick-the-can, football, or baseball in the summer and sledding, ice skating, or building snow forts in the winter. My Dad built us a brick patio to dance on when we brought our record player outside on the back porch during the summertime.

Dancing on the backyard patio

Dancing on the backyard patio

In the winter, Dad made a skating rink on the empty lot beside our house and Mom would take the garden hose and water the hill out back for sledding after she flooded the rink. The whole neighbourhood would come over to our place after school and on weekends to skate or slide all winter long!

Winter fun

Winter fun

After our gravel road was paved in the late 1050s, we skipped with our skipping ropes, playing ‘double-dutch’ while singing songs. We were NEVER indoors unless we were eating or getting ready for bed or watching Hockey Night in Canada.
I remember back in the day, that the ‘ice man’ would come around selling ice for people’s iceboxes (pre-refrigerators). There was the ‘milkman’ who left full quart bottles of fresh milk right on your front porch and exchanged the empty bottles – there was never any concern that the milk would go bad because there was always someone home to bring it in the house. The ‘bread man’ came to the door every day with a heavy wire basket full of goodies and bread – our Mom simply had to pick whatever she wanted. Every Saturday morning, I would go with my Dad to the Loblaws grocery store and sit on the 10 cent horse ride dreaming I was on a real horse.
We like to play in the nearby ‘field’ which was an undeveloped area of bushes, trees, grass, and hills which afforded tons of fun and imagination. When I was a bit older, I was allowed to go to ‘the creek’ which was a small river, the Red Hill Creek, with high banks that cut through the edge of the neighbourhood. I remember tobogganing down a steep hill there once and hurt my ankle when I crashed into a tree so my sister Faye had to pull me all the way home on the sled. I was always trying to climb trees too big to reach the bottom branches. The biggest ‘dare’ of all was to walk along ‘the cliff’ – I did once and I was scared to death.

Eaton Place girls

Eaton Place girls – baseball game out back

My sister and I went back to the ol’ hood a few years ago – all the yards are fenced now and the homes are owned outright. The ‘field’ is now occupied by houses and the ‘creek’ has a highway running through it.
We made lifelong friends on that street. Those close ties cannot be broken by time. And the memories will last forever.

 

 

 

Frostquake!

It’s been pretty cold lately. Abnormally cold. But then again, what is ‘normal’ anyway these days when it comes to weather with all the climate change going on – extreme weather in the summer with record-breaking heat and in the winter, polar vortexes every other week.

Freezing

At our house, when the temperature outdoors gets down to -30C or so, we get sudden BANGs which can shake the house. It’s a Frostquake or Cryoseism. I used to just  say it was frozen ground water expanding in the extreme cold, but now there’s a word for it. Living along the river, we have a fairly high water table. If there’s lots of rain in the fall, the ground becomes saturated, then freezes in the winter. We often heard them when skating on the frozen river.
Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson said the noise occurs when water filters into porous soil, freezes suddenly and becomes subject to shifting. “It’s like a low-grade earthquake,” he said. Yup, it shakes the house like an earthquake sometimes too.

Frost on the mudroom door

Frost on the mudroom door

I don’t like the cold anymore – it’s too………well, cold. I don’t drive to town on these really cold days – I wait for it to warm up a bit to just below freezing, every week or so. My faithful, 24 year old car with over 375,000 kms on it, doesn’t like going out in this kind of weather either. Instead I stay at home keeping the fire going in my cookstove or watching the birds or baking or making homemade dinners.  I don’t even have to go outside to get my firewood! I just walk through my unheated garage to the attached woodshed and bring it in. Oh, it’s just as cold as outside but it’s not technically outside – I still have to wear my winter coat especially if I’m splitting wood with my new electric 4 ton wood splitter that my two youngest kids got me for Christmas.

One thing good about the bitter cold outside is that I can get inside jobs accomplished. Like clearing out my cupboards of paperwork, deceased relatives dishes, clothes I never wear anymore, books/magazines I’ve read ….. you know simplifying my OWN life.

For now, I’ll keep feeding the birds beef suet and black oiled sunflower seeds and watch them eat while I wait for spring.

 

 

Bluejays on my apple tree *

Bluejays on my apple tree by Marty *

Cutting Our Christmas Tree

I want to share some pictures with you of our adventure to our favourite Christmas tree farm to cut our Christmas tree.

Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Krisit

Some of my children and grandchildren:  Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Kristi

 

This year, we were looking for a small tree under 5 feet.  I decided after last year that I didn’t want to move any large furniture to accommodate the tree in the corner.   After wandering around the field for a while, we found the perfect tree and Melvin skillfully cut it down.

Timber!

Timber!

 

Darin and Amanda and the girls were off in another direction looking for their perfect Christmas tree.

Aunt Nellie carried baby Josh around in his baby carrier – even Josh enjoyed himself!

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

 

While we were tying down our trees to the top of our cars, the kids enjoyed horsing around in the snow.

Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

Grandkids Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

 

Then we were off to Darin and Amanda’s house for hot chocolate, chili, and board games (of course!).

Loading up the tree

Loading up the tree

 

Merry Christmas!

 

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