Posted by: briellethefirst | November 3, 2017



Happiness in the garden

Every year I worry, did the jonquils survive the summer? Every year they pop up in the fall. We bought this house in august 1997, moved in the day Princess Diana died. By late September or early October, in a small part of the front garden green things sprang up. I let them go, curious to see what they were. Eventually they flowered. Jonquils! Small, delicate daffodils! I put in the garden in front of the front porch and decided they’d do better there. They seem to like it. Not only have they survived, they’ve multiplied.

This year I had to reclaim that garden. Life happened and Bermuda grass took over, strangling everything but a miniature rose and a chocolate flower. I was again concerned for my sweet bulbs. 5 days of digging and pounding dirt from roots and tossing rhizomes aside and I finally got to the back of the garden by the porch. With every shovelful they came.

jonquil bulbs

Jonquils coming up with every shovelful

It’s easy to mistake them for just another dirt clod, but they call to me. I pile them on the porch until it’s time to re-set them. Some have even started to sprout, so this year I’m just in time.

Bulbs waiting to be put back to bed

Set aside til I can replant them.

Every jonquil reminds me of a friend Dad and Lisa and I sang with in the choir at SCC. Jonquil was small and sweet and gay (in the best old-fashioned sense) and simply sparkled as a person. A delight to be around. I didn’t know her well, so after I left the choir I lost touch. Then I took a karate class. One of my classmates was Elleston Trevor. Jonquil’s husband and if you’ve seen Flight of the Phoenix, Quiller Memorandum then you’ve seen some of his work. It was nice to get reacquainted for a couple of years before I eventually got married and moved away.

In the language of flowers jonquil means love me, affection returned, desire, sympathy, desire for return of affection.  So plant some jonquils and enjoy your garden.

Posted by: briellethefirst | August 5, 2017

Quick Bean Dip

Put on a movie but ran out of popcorn, unexpected guests pop by, just need a quick snack…here’s one. Sometimes I just call this mini-tostadas and call it dinner…but I’m an adult so I can, ’cause I say so.

Beans, cheese and salsa

Beans, cheese and salsa

Open a can of refried beans into a bowl. Add a handful of grated cheese and some salsa. I use mild so anyone can enjoy and people who want more heat can add it.


Heat in microwave

Mix and microwave for a minute or two until the cheese starts to melt. You could also start in a pan and do this on the stove, but who wants to wash more dishes? Unless you plan on serving from the pan, and that’s OK too.

Mix in sour cream

Mix in some sour cream

Add a dollop or two of sour cream. Mix (I like it a bit streaky, but you can mix thoroughly if you like).


Dip chips and enjoy

Pull out the chips, dip and enjoy.

All measurements are as-you-like-it or to-taste. I usually start with a 16 oz can of beans, since they’re easy to keep around, but f you have leftover homemade refried beans, by all means use them and adjust the other ingredients accordingly. You can add guacamole if you like. Again, mix streakily or serve on the side. Other things to add if you have them: garlic (fresh, sautéed or dried), onions (green/yellow/white/red, diced or sautéed), oregano, basil, cooked ground or shredded meat or whatever you have that sounds good. This is easy enough that even kids can do it.

Posted by: briellethefirst | June 11, 2017

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

A few weeks ago a man walked into my meat department and asked me where we keep our fresh-squeezed orange juice. I suggested he look in the produce department or deli but I wasn’t aware that we sold fresh-squeezed. He said no, that his wife always buys it with the other juices in the dairy dept. I must have looked REALLY confused because he said “Really, she buys it here all the time!”. I said that I’d never heard of pre-packaged fresh-squeezed orange juice because fresh-squeezed OJ happens when you slice open multiple oranges and squeeze them, so it’d be kind of the opposite of pre-packaged, but I’d look through the dairy juice section with him. We found the brand and variety his wife usually buys. It says “not from concentrate, fresh-squeezed taste”. That’s a far cry from fresh-squeezed. Some people though…at least he laughed.

Anyway, if you come across some real oranges and decide to make the real thing, here’s how you do it.

Well stocked fruit bowl

Well stocked fruit bowl

Buy fresh oranges…or of you’re lucky enough to have a tree nearby that has ripe oranges on it, pick some. I have a blood orange tree and they look like this:

Home-grown blood orange.

Home-grown blood orange.

But you’ll probably use Valencia, Navel or other normal orange oranges. You can just roll an orange around on the counter, cut it open and then squeeze with your hands, but that does get tedious.

Hand squeezing

Hand squeezing

So, get your juicer. Yes, this is another gadget post as well as a how-to, so if you need to run to the big-box store, grocer or kitchen boutique it’s OK, we can wait. If you need to know what to look for, it can be as simple as this:

Manual Orange juicer

Manual Orange juicer

Or this:

Different hand squeezer

Different hand squeezer

Or as mechanical as this:

Mechanical juicer

Mechanical juicer

Or this:

juice from the juicer

Juice from juicer

Other juicer

Other juicer

Either way, pull it out of the cabinet or run to the store of your choice. We’ll wait. Take your time. Really, it’s OK, just get the one you feel comfy with for the amount of juice you want for today. We’ll wait.

*checks nails, scruffs the cat, tosses a ball for the dog, turns the radio on*

OK, great, your back. So, Get the cutting board out and a good, sharp knife. Cut the oranges (or other citrus if you happen to fancy that) and start juicing. Tangerines, satsumas, lemons, tangelos, limes, grapefruit all have their own character and making your own mix can be fun, whether it’s for breakfast, afternoon refreshment or cocktails. Stemware makes anything better, so toast the rising (or setting) sun and enjoy the fruits of your labour.



Cut oranges

Cut oranges


Posted by: briellethefirst | June 10, 2017


ready for lunch

Lunch Pasties

AKA meat pies. I grew up watching my mom make these for dinner. Only later did we find out we’re part Cornish, but many cultures have something similar. This is how we make them.


scrambled meat, onions & soup

Scramble 1 lb of hamburger with 1 chopped onion. When the meat is brown add 1 large can of vegetable beef soup. Rinse the can with wine. Season with Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic, basil and whatever sounds good. Cook down into a nice thick stew consistency, then let it cool.

Flatten biscuits on greased cookie sheet

Flatten biscuits on greased cookie sheet

Grease a cookie sheet. Spray oil is easy if you have it. Open a large tube of biscuits. Flatten them 1 at a time.

Add cheese

Add cheese

Put a piece of cheese (or a pinch of grated cheese) in the center of the 1st flat biscuit.

Add filling

Add filling

Add a spoonful of stew.

Fold and crimp

Fold and crimp

Fold biscuit over and crimp closed with a fork.

Poke holes

Poke holes to let steam out

Poke holes in the top to let out steam while cooking. Repeat til all 8 biscuits are filled.

Bake til golden

Bake til golden

Bake at 350 for 10-15 min, until golden brown. Make the next tray while the 1st one is baking. This makes 3 trays of pasties, with a bit left over to put over rice or bread for 1 dinner.

Serve hot or cold for dinner. They’re good plain or with mustard.

I put them 2-to-a-square sandwich tub and freeze for work lunches.

Originally I used this to use up the stew I made from a leftover roast. Mom made them this way when we didn’t have leftovers to get rid of. You can vary the flavour with salsa, BBQ sauce, cream of mushroom soup or change the meat to ham, chicken, turkey or whatever’s left over from another meal.  Different cheeses change the character of the pies, too. I usually use mild cheddar or jack cheese, but Swiss, Gouda, provolone or any other would be an interesting change. Let your imagination go with whatever leftovers you happen to have. If you want to leave out the meat you can, just use whatever vegetables are i season. Tofu makes a nice filler in place of meat. A filling of caramelized onions and mushrooms would be amazing!

Posted by: briellethefirst | March 18, 2017

Breakfast Syrup

Once upon a time I had guests and eggs and bread and we thought it would be lovely to have French toast. As I set the table I realized I was out of syrup. Guests were disappointed. No worries, I grabbed the hard brown sugar I couldn’t bake with and briefly took up space at the stove. They were skeptical, but upon trying it they decided they’d never buy syrup again (barring, of course, the real thing: maple syrup). So if you have brown sugar that’s too hard to bake with, don’t throw it out. Save it for pancake/waffle/French toast/fritters/etc. meals.

brown sugar and water

brown sugar and water

Put the brown sugar in a small saucepan. Add about 1/2 c water for every cup of sugar. Stir over medium heat until it dissolves and bring it just to a boil.

brown sugar and water

Stir to dissolve

Bring to a boil

Bring to a boil

Set aside to cool until the breakfast is ready. You don’t have to limit pancakes and such to breakfast, it’s just that that’s the most common meal at which these things are served.

Pour over French toast or whatever else you made and enjoy

Pour over French toast or whatever else you made and enjoy

Serve in a small pitcher/creamer or directly from the pan. You can store leftovers in a clean jar in the fridge for a few weeks.

If the syrup crystallizes, add a few spoonfuls of water, re-dissolve and bring just to a boil again, then use, cool and store.

Posted by: briellethefirst | December 29, 2016

Roast Turkey

Cut an onion in 1/2


Herbs and basting stuff

Mix some dry herbs and spices in small bowl.

Cut the turkey out of its plastic encumbrances, empty the juices into the sink (rinsing is optional) and place in your roaster.

Blow in the herbs

Blow herbs into the cavity

Blow a spoon of herbs into each opening, then put 1/2 an onion in each opening.

Bast the bird

Mix remaining herbs into honey/wine and pour some over bird and into the roaster

Warm up some wine, mix in a little honey and the remaining herbs into the warm wine. Spoon some over the breast and drumsticks and pour some into the bottom of the roaster.

Tented turkey

Turkey tucked in with giblets on the side

Tent the turkey with some foil and bake at 325 for…dig the plastic turkey packaging out of the trash for the times, but this one is 15 lbs, so it’ll be about 4 1/2 to 5 hours. I usually get one that’s 8 to 12 lbs, but this year’s turkey was a surprise buy.

After an hour take the foil off.

Continue cooking until the bird is lovely golden brown and perfect, which it will be as soon as that magic button pops up. Oh, wait…no, that’s wrong…get a meat thermometer & do this right! Only use the magic button as a general guide for when to start checking if it’s done. Or better yet, just pull it out and throw it away before you put the bird in the oven. When you think the bird looks done poke the pointy end of the meat thermometer into the thick part of a drumstick. When it’s 180 degrees, it’s done.

Put the neck and giblets in another pan with a bit of water or wine and roast them, too, for about 1/2 an hour or so.


Partially carved bird

Now pull the bird out with some big forks or tongs or wooden spoons or whatever and put it on the carving board or platter. Tent it with more foil and wait to carve it for 20 minutes. Use this time to madly dash about, finishing whatever else you’re preparing for this magnificent feast. Don’t forget to set the table.


Drumsticks and white meat

With a bird this magnificent, who needs side dishes?

When you’re done with the feast, put the leftover meat in containers for sandwiches, enchiladas, stew, soup or any other lovely new things you want to make. Put it away in small portion containers and freeze so you only have to thaw what you need as you need it. You can also boil the carcass down into a lovely broth for soups, stews and other such things. If you don’t have time right away, freeze the bones/carcass til you’re ready. See my recipe for stuffing. Yum!


Posted by: briellethefirst | October 30, 2016

Tartar Sauce Plus

Tartar Sauce

Fresh home-made Tartar Sauce

I just found out that many people don’t know how to make tartar sauce. Sure, malt vinegar is really all you need on fish, but there are times when you just want all that thick, lumpy, decadent numminess. So here it is. And I’ve added a bonus at the bottom of the article.

I’m just making this for me, so you can make a bigger batch if you want. Everything is estimated and to-taste, as home-fixins should be.


Just the basics

Toss a forkful (or 2) of sweet pickle relish in a small bowl. Add 2 or 3 forkfuls of mayonnaise. Mix. That’s the basic no-nonsense sauce.


Dressed up with options

Optional dress-up ingredients: a dash of cream of tartar, a couple turns of fresh grated pepper, a dash of garlic powder, celery seed, finely chopped celery, finely chopped parsley, finely chopped cilantro, finely chopped borage, finely chopped onion(white/yellow/purple/green/chives), a squirt of mustard, a touch of horseradish, lemon juice (fresh if you have it, from a little plastic thing you keep in your fridge for non-seasonal lemon emergencies), malt vinegar, balsamic vinegar (makes it darker, but oh, so yum!), cider vinegar.

A garnish is nice, whether you’re making it for yourself or a buffet table. Options for garnishes may include, but not be limited to: parsley, cilantro, borage, borage flowers (if your borage is in bloom), lemon twist, or anything edible that you think looks nice.

Serve with fish, french fries, tater tots, sandwiches, whatever you like.

a simple change

Simple addition for a whole new sauce


Secret sauce, AKA 1000 island dressing

Secret sauce, AKA 1000 island dressing

Remember that secret sauce at the burger joint? It was Thousand island Dressing. To make that just add ketchup to your tartar sauce. Good on fish, fries, tots, sandwiches and salads.

Posted by: briellethefirst | April 3, 2016

Quiche Tarts


Breakfast with pottery

I didn’t intend to write a blog post today, but breakfast from leftovers turned out so well this just happened. My chickens have been productive the past few weeks and I have leftover ham from the holidays. I bought some pie crusts for Quiche but this morning realized I still have these fillo tart shells, so breakfast was late but wonderful.

I chopped and sautéed an onion (still have leftover for dinner…if it lasts past lunch. I LOVE fried onions!)

Then I broke 2 eggs into a bowl and added pepper, thyme, basil, garlic powder and a splash of milk, whisking happily.

Then I took the fillo shells out of the freezer and cut some ham slices into small bits to fit in each one. Some sautéed onion went in on top of that, then I spooned the egg into each one, almost full. There was some left over so I fried it up in the onion oil (yum).

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

I baked them at 350 for about 10 or 15 minutes, until the egg filling set. Then salted, photographed and savoured breakfast.

When I pulled the cookie tray out of the oven I realized that a bit of spray cooking oil would have helped. If you try this you’ll be forewarned and avoid broken (but still yummy) tarts and extra scrubbing.

Posted by: briellethefirst | February 24, 2016

Baked Chicken Quarters

This is more a method than a recipe. It’s also an easy dinner to make with kids.

easy chicken

Easy baked chicken

Pull out all the cake pans and roasters you have. OK, so take out 4 or 5 pans. Open one of those 10 pound bags of chicken quarters. Rinse each one and put 1-3 quarters in each pan. Season each with a different combination of whatever you want. Start with pepper, garlic, onions, parsley and go from there.

Salsa chicken

Salsa chicken

Salsa done

ViviLnk Salsa done

You might do salsa, basil and oregano

Wine and herb chicken

ViviLnk Wine and herb chicken

wine done

ViviLnk wine done

or wine and herbs

Lemon chicken

Vivi Lemon chicken

Lemon done

ViviLnk Lemon done

or lemon pepper

Teriyaki chicken

ViviLnk Teriyaki chicken

teriyaki done

ViviLnk teriyaki done

or teriyaki

or anything else you like. Curry, beer, sweet and sour sauce, bar b que, whatever your heart desires.

in the oven

ViviLnk in the oven

Put the pans in the oven at about 350 degrees for about an hour or so. It doesn’t hurt to turn them once or twice while they cook.

All done

ViviLnk All done

While they’re cooking you can put on some rice, make stuffing, bake a few potatoes and biscuits to go with them. A salad or vegies from the garden would be nice, too. When it’s ready the family can have their favourite for dinner, no one gets to complain about “Oh, THAT again!”. Whatever is left over can be made into other things later in the week. Enchiladas, stir fry, soup, shredded over salad…almost endless variety.

You can also do this with chicken breasts or country-style pork or beef ribs.

Posted by: briellethefirst | February 5, 2016

Mashed Potatoes, Then Lefse

Plate of lefse, ready to roll

Plate of lefse, ready to roll

Sometimes I do traditional (for my family) cooking, sometimes I improvise and sometimes I do ‘I never done that before’ cooking. So, I saw an interesting article on Facebook and tried the recipe, since I’d never made lefse before. It wasn’t complicated and I loved working with the dough. The first night I had a simple dinner of lefse filled with sour cream and fried onions with lefse spread with butter and sprinkled with sour cream for desert. The boxed Cabernet Sauvignon was a delightful pairing.  I kept the leftovers on a plate covered with foil and had almost the same dinner the next night, adding a fresh egg to the dinner portions. I love my chickens.

So, here goes. You’ll need:

About a pound of Potatoes, 2 or 3 big ones should suffice.

1/4 c butter or margarine (OK, I’m sure if all you had lard or bacon fat that would work too)

1/4 c heavy cream (or half and half or probably even buttermilk will do)

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Sugar

1 cup or so of Flour, more or less depending on the potatoes.

Boil potatoes

Peel, cut and boil potatoes

Peel the potatoes, cut them into pieces and boil them until tender, about 20 minutes. When you can easily poke them with a fork, they’re done.

mash potatoes

Mash or rice potatoes

Pull them out with a slotted spoon or other utensil, putting them in a bowl. The recipe says to put them in a potato ricer, but since I don’t have on and can’t afford to get one right now, I’ll make do with a simple masher. If you have a ricer or can afford to get one before the potatoes are done, by all means, use it. Running them through the ricer twice will make smoother mashed potatoes. I’m sure you could use leftover mashed potatoes as well. If you just want to make mashed potatoes, leave out the sugar and don’t make lefse…unless you have leftovers. If you make your mashed potatoes with onions, that’s fine.

Add butter

Add butter and mix as it melts

Add the butter to the warm mashed/riced potatoes, mixing it in as it melts. Yes, you may lick the masher when you’re done. Try to resist eating too much now.

Add cream or milk, salt and sugar

Add cream/milk, salt and sugar

Add the cream, salt and sugar, mixing well. yes, you may taste it. No you may not spoon a bunch in a bowl for a snack…or maybe that’s OK, but you’ll have less for lefse. At this point you can set it aside in the fridge for a couple of days until you want to add the flour and make lefse. Nice to know if you have plans but can’t make it all in one day. Planning ahead is good.

Add flour

Add flour

Add the flour. It will be a stiff, almost crumbly dough. If you need to knead it to get it to come together, do. My first attempt was just stiff, not crumbly, so I left it at that. It was still wonderful to work.

Stiff, kind of crumbly dough

Stiff, kind of crumbly dough

Divide into 8 or 12 pieces

Divide into 8 or 12 pieces

Divide the dough into 8-12 pieces, depending on how big your pan is. The recipe I followed said to roll the 8 pieces into 10-12 inch circles, but my pan was kind of a normal size so I made 12 6-8 inch rounds. They’re fairly easy to handle for beginners, too.

Roll each ball into a thin, roughly round circle

Roll each ball into a thin, roughly round circle

If you’re used to using a pastry cloth, then use that but I don’t have one so I just use flour dusted on the table to roll out my lefse.

Cook on first side, bubbles may form, while rolling your next round

Cook on first side, bubbles may form, while rolling your next round

Lightly grease your pan, preferably cast iron or enamel, and pre-heat while you roll out your first piece. If you keep the stove a bit under medium heat you can put the lefse round on to cook, then start to roll the next one, turn the lefse, finish rolling the next one, then pull the first one off and put the second one on to cook. Now you can start rolling the third one, and so on. You’ll get into a rhythm and it’ll go pretty fast.

Turn with a small spatula or flat stick and finish rolling the next one

Turn with a small spatula or flat stick and finish rolling the next one

The recipe said something about a special stick to turn it. I guess you can use a regular spatula but I happened to have a wooden tool my grandmother gave me, so I used that.

Keep them warm in the oven, about 170 degrees

Keep them warm in the oven, about 170 degrees

Heat the oven to warm, about 170 degrees, so you can keep the lefse warm on a plate while you cook the whole batch. It’s OK if you make holes in a lefse when you pick it up, these will usually be covered when you roll it up with filling. You can try sliding or flipping it onto the back of your hand to carry it to the pan, this may help reduce tearing.

Sliding onto your hand may reduce tears

Sliding onto your hand may reduce tears

Butter and jam

Butter and jam

Fill it with anything you like. PB&J, tuna/chicken/ham salad, fried onions, scrambled eggs, sour cream & brown sugar (really yum!), Nutella, whatever. Apparently you can also cut them into strips and deep fry them til golden then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. I’ll have to try that some time.

Onion and sour cream

Onion and sour cream

Butter and brown sugar

Butter and brown sugar

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