Happy Thanksgiving Americans!!

As a Canadian living in the United States, I am very thankful to be enjoying Thanksgiving for the second time this year! Many Americans that I meet are surprised to hear that Canadians have their own Thanksgiving. Canadians celebrate in October. Why October? well, I think its because Canada is further north and we harvest our crops earlier. Thanksgiving is centered around being thankful for the bountiful harvest and our blessings from the year gone by. The history of Thanksgiving in Canada can be traced back to the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in most of Canada. The Monday is the official holiday but families gather to enjoy a meal on either day during the long weekend. Canadians traditionally eat a turkey dinner, lots of the fall vegetables and pumpkin or apple pie is a traditional dessert.

I guess in all fairness I should share some information about the history of American Thanksgiving too. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Some parades or festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season. Most people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for trips and to visit family and friends. Thanksgiving is the biggest travel time of the year.

In my opinion, American Thanksgiving is a much bigger event then Canadian Thanksgiving. In Canada, it is really just a 3 day long week-end to give thanks with your family and enjoy a meal. American do it up BIG and they all LOVE Thanksgiving. They eat, give thanks, shop, go to parades, play football, eat some more. So many Americans I know, put up their Christmas trees. I see the American holiday as a kick off to the whole holiday season leading into Christmas.

I have a few dear American friends that live in Canada and I have some wonderful American friends too. I love that almost all of them consider Thanksgiving their favourite holiday of the year. It is great to be thankful for a day that is all about families gathering together!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICANS! enjoy your day!

photo borrowed from: http://www.newlafayette.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Thanksgiving-dinner.jpg

my Thanksgiving “research” is from Wikipedia.

(opinions and Thanksgiving information from a Canadian girl living in Kansas)

A Baby is in the house!!

Baby Oscar

Meet Baby Oscar!

He is a ‘Real Care baby’ that our Finnish exchange Student had to look after for her Child Development class at school.

Baby Oscar

Little Oscar is an amazing piece of technology! He offers most of the challenges of parenting without the joys. ( He is not too cuddly, he is actually pretty heavy. There are no smiles and loving gazes) Oscar has an internal computer that keeps track of everything! He also has a head that needs supporting. Oscar offered lots of crying when he needed something, breathing sounds when sleeping and when he was awake he would make different cooing sounds too. The only part missing was that his eyes didn’t close. I think that would have been helpful so you could tell if he was sleeping. Here is what it says about him on the website. http://www.realityworks.com/products/realcare-baby 

RealCare Baby makes it possible for people to practice caring for an infant 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Baby cries for care at all hours, day and night
  • Caregiver determines what Baby needs: feeding, burping, rocking, diapering
  • Unique wireless ID to ensure accountability
  • Baby’s computer tracks its care and safe handling
  • Detailed assessment data is downloaded post-simulation

New with RealCare Baby 3:

  • Data is recorded when clothing is changed and which clothing articles Baby is wearing
  • Baby records surrounding temperature and reports when temperature varies from safe zone
  • Baby now detects how long it has been sitting unattended in a car seat (sold separately)

Here is Mom on duty holding her baby. Oscar is wearing a scarf that belongs to my Daughter’s old teddy bear … (no comment)

Baby Oscar

Baby Oscar’s Finnish Mom was also fitted with a bracelet so she was  the only one that could look after him.

Oscar came home on the school bus on Friday and he went back to school on Monday morning. That was definitely long enough! ha ha

Baby Oscar

I am pretty sure the experiment worked because his “Mom” says she does not want her own baby anytime soon. However, someday when she does become a Mom she will have some previous experience to rely on and a “A” on her report card to back it up!

My Mom’s Tomato Soup Cake Recipe and old fashioned recipes

tomato soup cake

My Mom has been making this cake forever! She often made it for company or to take to a party and she says she usually never told anyone that it was called a ‘Tomato Soup Cake’ because that turned everyone off. She would just say it was a spice cake. However, in the end, everyone always loved it.

She made it when I was home in the summer time so I took a few photos and she said that I could share!

tomato soup cake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 3/4 cups of white sugar
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 cup of raisins – mixed into a bit of the flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1- 1/2 cups of cake and pastry flour

Directions

  • Cream the shortening and sugar together and beat in the egg.
  • Sift the flour and measure. Add all of the dry ingredients to the flour and sift again.
  • Stir in the raisins.
  • Alternate adding the flour and the soup to the wet mixture.
  • Bake a 350′ for approximately 30 –40 minutes in a greased square pan.

My Mom always ices the cake with a homemade white buttercream icing.

tomato soup cake

I have never made this cake myself and as I type up the recipe, I am wondering about some of the “old fashioned” steps. I always remember my Mom baking and sifting the flour with her old sifter, but I never do that!! I don’t even own a sifter! Do they still make them? I also know that she buys cake and pastry flour for baking cakes which is something else I do not do.

It gets me wondering whether these steps are still important.

I looked up the differences in the flour and here is what I found out;

All-purpose flour has a 10-12% protein content and is made from a blend of hard and soft wheat flours. It can be bleached or unbleached which are interchangeable.  However, Southern brands of bleached all-purpose flour have a lower protein content (8%) as they are made from a soft winter wheat.  All-purpose flour can vary in its protein content not only by brand but also regionally. The same brand can have different protein contents depending on what area of the country in the United States you are buying it.  Good for making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries.

Cake flour has a 6-8% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is chlorinated to further break down the strength of the gluten and is smooth and velvety in texture. Good for making cakes (especially white cakes and biscuits) and cookies where a tender and delicate texture is desired.  To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour.  Make your own – one cup sifted cake flour can be substituted with 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch.

Pastry flour is similar to cake flour, although it has not been chlorinated,  with an 8-10% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is soft and ivory in color. Can find it in health food stores or through mail order catalogs. To make two cups of pastry flour, combine 1 1/3 cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup (90 grams) cake flour. Good for making pastry, pies and cookies.

Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/flour.html#ixzz3JuMgcgVF

Apparently, there is a lot to learn about flour!!

I also wondered about the shortening versus baking with butter. I hardly ever bake with shortening.

Shortening Substitution

Many of my older recipes for cakes and cookies call for shortening. It seems that today’s recipes use mostly butter or margarine. Can these be substituted for shortening? What changes will I notice in taste and texture? —R.M., Wyoming, Michigan

Yes, butter or stick margarine can be substituted for shortening in equal proportions in cake and cookie recipes. Most folks prefer butter because of the wonderful flavour it imparts. However, you can expect some changes in the texture of your baked goods. Cookies made with butter will have a darker color and tend to spread out more as they bake. Using part butter and part shortening will help cookies keep their shape. Cakes made with butter can be as light and tender as those made with shortening…if the butter and sugar are creamed properly. During the creaming process, the sugar and butter are beaten together to incorporate air bubbles into the fat, which helps to make the cake texture light.

For best results, start with butter at room temperature (65°). The bowl and beaters should be cool to prevent the butter from becoming too warm as you beat it. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to rinse both the bowl and the beaters in ice water. Cream the butter and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula

Read more: http://www.tasteofhome.com/cooking-tips/ask-the-test-kitchen/shortening-substitution#ixzz3JuNY2TVU

Sorry, this blog has become about much more then just a yummy cake recipe. Lots to consider!! I am leaving the recipe just the way my Mom makes it and I will let you decide if you want to make any changes.

Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!

Make your own Cranberry Sauce and Turkey Stuffing

 cranberry sauce recipe

CRANBERRY SAUCE

For years I always bought my cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas in a can. I always thought it was good enough… heck, I even enjoyed the jellied version! One year, I decided to try cooking my own cranberries and it was a pleasant surprise! The sauce was easy to make and very delicious!

Do you make your own cranberry sauce? I wonder how many people take the time to do so.

If you would like to ditch the canned and try your own, here is the recipe I use courtesy of Betty Crocker.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

Directions

  • In a saucepan, heat the brown sugar and orange juice to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil 5 minutes.
  • Stir in cranberries and heat to boiling again. Boil about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until cranberries are popped and mixture has thickened. Stir in orange peel.
  • Cool and then store in a covered dish and refrigerate about 3 hours or until chilled.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

STUFFING

Stuffing is something I have made for years without a recipe. I learned from watching my Mom and she always just threw stuff together. Back in October, I cooked a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner and I paid attention to what I put in it to share with you!

Here is my “Recipe”

    • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
    • 1/2 cup chopped celery
    • 1/3 cup butter
    • 4 cups bread cubes – any day old bread that you have on hand
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
    • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
    • turkey or chicken broth to moisten ( approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Sauté onion and celery in the butter until softened. Combine onion mixture with bread, pepper, salt, sage and poultry seasoning in a large mixing bowl. Stir in broth until well moistened. Enough for an 8 to 10-pound turkey. Double it to stuff a big ole turkey. I find not everyone eats a lot of stuffing so usually making double this recipe is just fine.

Happy Holiday Cooking Friends!!

Sharing my Smile of the Week ♥

I had a great idea! Every now and then I am going to post my “smile” for the week. There is something that makes me smile everyday and I thought it would be great to share and maybe make someone else smile too. It is important to take a moment and think about what you have to smile about and be grateful for the good things in life. So, here is my “smile”. Check the main page of my blog for lots more SMILE STORIES.

Monday is a great day to share a smile or two.

Yesterday’s snowfall made me smile! My smile is probably due to the fact that here in Kansas, snow comes and goes but it does not last long enough for me to get sick of it. The first few snowfalls always make me think of the holidays too and for some reason I am feeling that cheerful spirit earlier than normal. I did choose to buy Christmas gifts for children from the Angel Tree and the gifts need to be delivered early so on the weekend I went toy shopping. I was really thrilled to choose a little girl with the same name as me and she wanted a Baby Alive doll. I can still remember wishing for that doll as a little girl so I was thrilled to be able to buy one. So with the snow falling yesterday, I happily made some soup and baked a favourite cookie, Red Velvet Cookie.  It was a quiet and cosy day.

red velvet cookies

My other smile to share comes from one of my little students. I had told her that she had ketchup all over her face after lunch and we should wash it. I proceeded to get a paper towel and wet it, but being distracted, I walked over and began to wash another student’s face. Once I realized my mistake, I let out a big “uh oh… wrong face!!” My sweet little student who walks with a walker, LAUGHED so hard, she just about fell over. This only made me laugh too and we both enjoyed the moment immensely. As for the little boy that had his clean face washed? he was not phased at all.

♥May your week be filled with smiles♥

New Fabric on my Bench Seat Cushion and I don’t sew!

bench cushion

Here is my bench that is in my hall. I love this bench and you can click on the link to read about when I first got it.

http://prytulka.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/sharing-my-smile-of-the-week-5/

I have had it for about 2 years and I love the bench but I found the cushion cover a bit plain and boring. We recently painted our front entranceway and I thought that changing the fabric on the bench would add some extra life to the hall.

Only problem is that I am not a sewer…

Then I remembered something I had pinned on Pinterest that showed how to recover a cushion without sewing. I looked it up, shared it with my handy husband and we put the plan into action. Here is the link where I saw the idea originally. http://sunlitspaces.com/2013/01/09/step-by-step-how-to-upholster-a-bench-seat/

bench cushion fabric

First, I bought some fabric, it was upholstery fabric so extra durable. It was on sale and I had a coupon so I only paid about $10. I had the colours in it that I liked so it was a good find.  My husband chose a piece of 1/4″ plywood and cut it to the size of the cushion.

bench cushion

bench cushion

As you can see, this was a simple job that didn’t take much time at all. We laid out the fabric on the floor, laid the cushion down and the piece of wood on top. Then we carefully pulled the fabric tightly and staple gunned it into place.

bench cushion

Here is the fold we used on the corners.

bench cushion

bench cushion

Our bench is mostly decorative, it is not used on a daily basis so we just left the bottom as is. You could cover the staples on the bottom with a bit of felt if you were worried that it might scratch the bottom of the bench.

bench cushion

I am totally thrilled with the look of my bench!

bench cushion

Displaying my Grandmother’s cameo in a Shadow Box

jewellry in a Shadow box

This is my Grandma’s cameo broach that was passed down to me from my Mom. I have had it all wrapped up in a piece of velvet in a little bag for 22 years! Every now and then I go through my drawers and find it and I recently decided that I should find a way to display it.

jewellry on display in a Shadow box

I bought myself a shadow box and then tried to figure out how I would attach it to the inside.

shadow box

Even though the broach had a pin on the back, I could not get it to hold the broach tightly in position.

display jewellry in a shadow box

I ended up attaching it with it’s pin to a piece of felt and then stitching around it to secure it. Please excuse the next photo that obviously did not get past quality control! I am sharing it anyway because it shows how I attached it … in a blurry way.

shadow box

Then I cut around the felt and I hot glued it to the inside of the shadow box. That way, I can take the broach out at any time and it will not be damaged.

I used these pieces of lace trim to go around it because I loved how old fashioned it seemed.

shadow box

Once I put it all together I noticed that the edges of the actual shadow box were rough feeling so I ended up gluing down pieces of paper to cover them up.

I loved how the blue print paper looked too.

Shadow box

Now instead of having this cameo stuck in a drawer, I can enjoy looking at it every time I go in my bedroom and picture my Grandma wearing it.

Sorry I have been missing from my blog lately. I have been busy, busy and I have also been suffering with a pinch in my neck and shoulder that gets worse with too much typing. This week-end I have had a cold and my Daughter had a stomach virus. It was a shame to spend such a lovely weekend laying around the house…but not much we could have done about it!

The next time I go outside it is supposed to be a lot colder than it has been. I think the weather girl described it as the “Canadian Express”!! Gee, I love and miss you Canada but you can keep your cold air!!

Have a great week everyone!

Puppy Chow Snack Mix that I made for Halloween!

puppy chow

I had honestly never heard of PUPPY CHOW before I moved here to Kansas 2 years ago! Since then I have heard about it, read about it and I have even tasted it. Today my Daughter needed to bring something for a bake sale at school and apparently Puppy Chow is a favourite. So I decided to try making my own. I made it into a fun mix, adding in Halloween shaped pretzels that were drizzled in chocolate, M&M’s and chocolate covered raisins.

Have any of my Canadian friends ever heard of Puppy Chow? or do I just lead a sheltered life?

Anyway, check out this fun recipe and thanks to everyone who has helped enlighten me about puppy chow! but I am still wondering why its called puppy chow…

Ingredients

  • 10 cups Corn Chex Cereal
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups of M&M’s
  • 2 cups of raisinets (chocolate covered raisins)
  • 2-3 cups of Halloween pretzels (I drizzled mine with melted chocolate but this is optional)
Directions
  • Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
  • In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 30-40 seconds and stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon re-sealable food-storage plastic bag.
  • Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool.
  • Add in the M&M’s, chocolate covered raisins and pretzels.  Store in airtight container.

May I just mention, that you can make this mix for anytime of year by just using regular pretzels instead of Halloween ones.

puppy chow

From what I read, it sounded like mixing the Chex cereal with the chocolate was going to be messy. I put it in a 9×13″ pan lined with wax paper to make it easier, but , in the end it would have been just fine in the big bowl. You just have to add in a bit of chocolate at a time and stir gently.

puppy chow

Next, it goes into the bag to get coated with icing sugar/powdered sugar.

puppy chow

This is what is called Puppy Chow at this point. However, adding in the extras makes it even a bigger treat.

puppy chow

Pumpkin and Bat Pretzels!

puppy chow

I drizzled some melted chocolate on the pretzels and I sprinkled on some orange sprinkles (which didn’t really show up that well)

puppy chow

Here is my sweet snack mix!!

puppy chow

I bagged them up in cute Halloween bags for the bake sale!

puppy chow

Hopefully they are all bought and enjoyed today.

puppy chow

I can feel the buzz in the air this week at school. The children are extra loud and extra excited. All of us Educators are just happy that the day after Halloween is a Saturday! We are hoping that all the children will sleep in and come down from their sugar high by Monday.

I will take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and fun Halloween for this coming Friday. See you in November!

Halloween Week-end Fun

Halloween

We had a weekend full of Halloween activities. First of all, the girls carved their pumpkins into jack o’ lanterns. My Daughter carved the one in the first picture and then I had the idea that she could add a bit of paint to it.

Our Finnish Student had never carved a pumpkin before so this was a new experience for her. She went with a traditional face and here she is posing with it.

Halloween 

I also made some roll out cookies for Halloween and the girls decorated them. Our student said she had never decorated cookies before! wow, that was a surprise and she did a nice job on all of hers! (shown in the next photo)

cookie decorating for Halloween

I saw this idea to make spider webs on pinterest and I just had to try it.  You just lay out the pretzels on wax paper and then melt some chocolate chips and pour them in a web design. Then chill them in the freezer until they are set.

I got a bit anxious and I took them out too early so they were a bit soft when I went to take the photo ….  but, I think these could turn out well and be a fun treat!

Spiderwebs

spiderwebs

I also tried this idea to make Oreos into eyeballs. I tried a couple and my Daughter did too. We didn’t think ours looked that great but the ones online were much better.

http://www.craftymorning.com/fun-oreo-halloween-treats-make/

oreo eyeballs

I will have to try these again sometime. I like the fact that you can make these without buying all kinds of ingredients and you do not have to bake!

Happy Halloween Week!!

Skeleton Cupcakes

skeleton cupcakes

I had to share this post again since these are one of my favourite Halloween cupcakes ever! You can click on the link to see the original post.

SKELETON CUPCAKES

These skeletons are fun to make because your imagination can make the skeletons dance, jump and pose anyhow you want them too. We are going to make these again later in the week for the Marching Band dinner!

skeleton cupcakes

skeleton cupcakes

Do you have a favourite Halloween treat?

Check out some of the other fun ideas on my blog from previous years!!