Hamburger Soup

It’s currently around 2 Celius here. One of the dayare children is talking about the snow that was at his house last night… sounds like the perfect day for some Hamburger Soup!

I found the original recipe hand written by my Grandma Dalgarno in the columns of the Strathclair cookbook. I’ve since modified it to suit our tastes.


Hamburger Soup

1.5 lbs Ground Beef
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 jar homemade Tomatoe Sauce
1 L homemade Beef Broth
4 Carrots, chopped
3 Celery Sticks, chopped
3 large Mushrooms, sliced
Parsley, to taste (usually about 1 tbsp)
Thyme, to taste (usually about 1/2 tsp)
3/4 cup Long Grain Rice, uncooked
3 tbsp Pot Barley

Brown meat & onions. Chop veggies, I usually put the celery through the food chopper to disguise it, as the children don’t like to eat chunks of celery. This was they eat it, and are none the wiser!! (sneak eh?) Add everything into the pot. Simmer for several hours.

We usually enjoy this yummy soup with some homemade garlic toast & pickles. A great soup for a cold day! 🙂

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Homemade Ketchup Recipe

Ketchup has been a staple condiment for hundreds of years. Have you ever wondered what people used to do before Heinz started producing store-bought ketchup? (or was it just me?) Well, this past harvest our tomatoes were VERY bountiful! After making Tomatoe Sauce every couple days for 2 months, I started looking for other recipes to preserve the tomatoes. This is when I stumbled upon a recipe for Ketchup! I figured… why not?!

It’s taken me until now to use up the store bought ketchup that was in my basement, but when I brought out the first jar of homemade ketchup all my daycare kids gave it 2 thumbs up! Without further ado….. Homemade Ketchup!

First you need to gather your ingredients:
3 tbsp Celery Seeds
4 tsp Whole Cloves (I used 16 tsp Ground Cloves)
2 Cinnamon Sticks, broken into pieces
1.5 tsp Whole Allspice (I used 8 tsp Ground Allspice)
3 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
24 lbs Tomatoes, cored & quartered
3 cups Onions, chopped
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1.5 cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Pickling/Canning Salt

Step #1
Tie Celery Seeds, Cloves, Cinnamon Sticks and Allspice into a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Pour Vinegar into a saucepan, and place spice bag in as well. Bring to boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand 25 minutes. Discard spice bag.
Step #2
In large canning pot combine Tomatoes, Onions & Cayenne. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently for 20 minutes. Add infused vinegar and boil gently until vegetables are soft and mixture begins to thicken.
Step #3
Working in batches, transfer mixture to a sieve placed over a glass/stainless steel bowl and press to extract all liquid. Discard solids.
Step #4
Return liquids to saucepan. Add sugar and salt. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by half and mixture is almost the consistency of commercial ketchup.
Step #5
I used a Boiling-Water Heat Processing method for canning. Ladle hot ketchup into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Finger-tip tighten lid. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store. I store the jars in my cellar, but once the jar is open I store it in my fridge (or in this great Tupperware squeeze container)

Well, there you have it! A very tasty Ketchup (and without any Red Dye #2, and lower in sugar & salt than commercial brands) 🙂

Categories: Frugal, Recipe | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Gingerbread Journey

Well, after spending two days immersed in the world of Gingerbread Creations I thought that I would share our Gingerbread Journey with you.

First off, for those of you who don’t know Kristina & I, a bit of background story: In 2003 Kristina and I lived together, and that Christmas is when we began our Gingerbread Journey. In our first attempt at Gingerbread houses Kristina made a simple house from a premade pattern out of a magazine, and I designed and built a Nativity Scene. After 10 years of experience, looking back, I can’t believe how crude my scene was that year. Each year Kristina and I get together on a weekend in either November or December or like this year, because of special birthdays, sudden family deaths, and the business of Christmas; January. Other than that first year we have always designed and created our scenes from ideas in our own heads.

First you must have a great dough recipe:
Gingerbread Recipe

Next most important detail is the Glue or Hard Icing. We learned the hard way in year 1 that to attach candy this “hard” icing is always the best way to go! Otherwise pretty soon candy will be falling of your creation all over the place!
Hard Icing Recipe

Finally all you need is a great imagination!! Here are our creations from over the years:
Year 1: House (Kristina)
Nativity Scene (Karen)
Year 2: Train (Kristina)
Farm Yard (Karen)
Year 3: Unfortunately due to computer problems, pictures from this year were lost. 😦 (Always remember to back up your pictures!!)
Kristina made a Cul-De-Sac, and I made a daycare center.
Year 4: Living Room Scene (Kristina)
Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (Karen)
Year 5: Castle (Kristina)
Grain Elevator (Karen)
Year 6: FairyTale Land (Kristina)
Rudolph’s Reindeer Academy (Karen)
Year 7: Finished FairyTale Land (Kristina)
Train Station & Santa Train (Karen)
Year 8: Pirate Ship (Kristina)
oct - dec 2010 189
Berenstain Bear Tree House (Karen)
oct - dec 2010 077
Year 9: Carnival (Kristina)
Santa’s Workshop (Karen)
Stay tuned for Gingerbread Year 10!!! A little hint on my theme for this year: I drew my inspiration from these fabulous books……. 🙂

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No Bake Nuts And Bolts

Have you ever craved Nuts & Bolts, but don’t like to wait the hour it takes to bake them in the oven? The Newdale Community Recipe Book of 2000 contains a great No-Bake Nuts & Bolts recipe from Gertrude Soltys (page 157). This recipe has become a staple at our family gatherings over the past few years. The secret got out at my parents 40th Anniversary party this summer, and friends have been asking me for this recipe ever since. I figured it was time that I spilled the beans on how simple it is! (Of course, when do I ever do something that’s NOT simple?)

Without further ado…..The Recipe!

1 – 675g box Shreddies
1 – 350 g box Crispix
1 – 425 g box Cheerios
1 box Ritz Bits
600 g Pretzels
5 cups Peanuts (optional)
Mix these ingredients together in a NEW/UNUSED plastic garbage bag and shake together. All the ingredients are optional, add whatever you like in nuts & bolts. I tend to not put in the peanuts, and add another bag of pretzels, simply because I can’t serve nuts in my home daycare!

1 cup Canola Oil
3 tbsp Dill Weed
4 tbsp Garlic Powder
3 pkg Dry Ranch Style Dressing Mix
Drizzle Oil over mixture and shake well. Sprinkle seasoning over mixture and shake together. Store in airtight containers.
Yield: approximately 3 Ice Cream Pails full.

Yep! That’s It! That’s All! 🙂 (Told you it was simple!)

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Esther’s Famous Dill Pickle Recipe

If you’ve never tried making your own pickles, you should! It is worth it because they are SO much better than store bought! I grew up with homemade pickles, as my Mom & Grandma both made some every year. When I first tasted Darryl’s Mom’s pickles, I knew that I had to try this different recipe. This harvest season has brought with it an abundance of cucumbers, so I knew that I would be able to try Esther’s Famous Dill Pickle Recipe!

Step 1: Prepare the cucmbers: You will need to wash the cucumbers. Scrub any dirt off them! I also cut the vine tip off and remove the blossom if it is still attached. I was brought some cucumbers that were a little….. hmmm…….soft/bendy….. definitely NOT nice and crunchy! So, I called up my Grandma (because Grandmas know EVERYTHING! 🙂 ). Grandma told me to put the cucmbers in a cold water bath with some ice cubes. So, I spend the evening filling up the sink (filled with cucmbers) with cold water, putting ice cubes in, and just generally keeping the water cold! The cucumbers perked up, and were crunchy again in a few hours!

Step 2: Prepare Jars: I use a water bath method. Place your jars upside down in a pot, with no lids on them. Pour in a few inches of water, and bring to boil. Allow jars to boil in the water for a few minutes to sterilize them.

Step 3: Pack Jars: Remove a jar from water. Place 4 drops of Oil of Dill (or 1 head Dill), and 2-3 peeled Garlic Cloves into the bottom of the now sterile jar. Pack cucumbers into jar as tightly as possible. **Make sure to leave some head room so that the lid will fit on.

Step 4: Brine: Combine 9 cups Water, 3 cups Vinegar, and 1 cup Pickling Salt together in a pot. Bring to boil. Meanwhile, place lids and rubber rings in the hot water bath that the jars were in. Once Brine is boiling, you will fill and seal one jar at a time. Pour the brine into a jar until it is overflowing. (I always place the jar in a bowl so that the excess goes into the bowl, and I can then pour it back into the brine pot.) Once jar is full of brine, using tongs, remove the lid & rubber ring from the boiling water bath. Tighten onto the jar. Repeat this for however many jars you are making!

Step 5: WAIT!: Allow your jars to cool undisturbed for 24 hours. I’ve been asking My Mom, Grandma, and Esther (Darryl’s Mom) how long to wait until you can eat the pickles. I got answers of anywhere from 1 week to 6-8 weeks. I tried 1 jar after about 1.5 weeks, and they tasted GREAT!! Thanks Esther for entrusting me with this fabulous family pickle recipe!

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Meatless Monday: Lentil Loaf

Today, we had a Meatless Monday! 🙂 I have been slowly introducing the children to Lentil & Beans. It hasn’t been a favourite, but all the children are eager to try at least one bite! I made up this Lentil Loaf recipe as I went along, but the kids and I thought it turned out great!! 🙂 I combined a lentil loaf recipe & my tried & true meatloaf recipe. This is what I came up with:

2/3 cup Lentils
1.5 cups Water
1 cup Rolled Oats
1 Egg
1/2 cup Chicken Broth (Homemade)
1/2 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tbsp Parsley
2 Individual Packets Dry Lipton Beef Vegetable Soup Mix
Shredded Cracker Barrel Marble Cheese

First, bring lentils and water to a boil, and simmer until lentils are soft. (about 40 minutes) Then, add all other ingredients (except cheese). Mix well. Spoon into a greased muffin tin. Bake at 400F for 40 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake another 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. I put this into a muffin pan, instead of a loaf pan, so that the children would each have an individual loaf. But, you could also bake it in a loaf pan.

For more information on cooking with pulses please check out the Manitoba Pulse Growers website. Under the Consumer menu, there is information on where to buy pulses, how to cook with them, and also some recipes.

Categories: Early Childhood Education, Recipe | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Canned Beans

What better way to celebrate Food Day Canada than by canning beans grown in my own garden! For more info on Food Day Canada check out this webpage. The daycare children and I planted a garden this spring. We enjoyed learning about all the different seeds. The children liked planting the “big” seeds the best!

All summer, we have been watering our garden, and pulling the weeds. This past week, we’ve been picking the beans, and tipping & tailing them. Since it’s cool today, I figured it would be a great day to can the beans. My Mom & Grandma have been using this recipe for years!

After tipping, & tailing & cutting the beans, the next step is to blanch the beans. You do this first by covering them with water, and bring it to a boil. Then you pour off the water, and cool the beans with cold water.

After measuring the beans, you add 2 tsp Pickling salt, and 2 tbsp Vinegar for every 4 cups beans. Cover the beans with boiling water, and boil for 20 minutes. Place beans & water in sterile jars.

Finished!!!!!! 🙂 Can’t wait to eat these beans in the middle of winter, and remind the children of all the work that we did to grow & can them!

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Hour Bread Recipe

I’ve been making my own bread for about a year now. People keep asking me how I have the time to bake bread, and honestly I’m a little embarassed to admit but my bread recipe only takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to make.


First Step: Mixing ingredients together:

Allow dough to rise in warm place (NOT hot oven! I simply turn the light on for a bit of heat) for 20 minutes.

Then divide the dough into 4 pans, and let rise for another 20 minutes.

Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.



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