Monthly Archives: September 2020

Funny Big Cat – Little Cat Story

My husband and I often lie in bed and watch TV in the evening before we fall asleep. The cats join us for a cuddle and an ear rub. Klinger really enjoys our evening time. He snuggles up close to me and I give him a massage and he purrs his fool head off until we fall asleep. He will eventually leave during the night and go sleep somewhere else. I assume it is out of kick range. Mali has adjusted to the routine very well and she usually joins us. It has taken her time to learn that evenings are for quiet cuddles not wrestle, jump and attack time, but she has mostly learned it. She especially likes to cuddle just touching Klinger. Last night she carefully groomed his tail for him and he appears to like that.

We had to go to town for the day. We took Misty so Klinger and Mali were left alone for several hours. We came home to a frantically upset kitten. She greeted us with joy and relief but refused to settle down. No, she wasn’t hungry. No, she didn’t need fresh water. Nothing we tried satisfied her. Eventually, I figured out whatever the problem was, it was in the basement. I followed her downstairs while she frantically meowed at me, circling me in terrible distress. She led me straight to Klinger’s favourite quiet spot on his bed downstairs. She put her little paws on the edge and looked down on him and cried.

At first glance I thought “Oh no! Klinger has died in his sleep.” He was curled into a tight ball and he was not moving. Even as I thought it, I saw him partially open one eye and then quickly squish it down again. The old cat was faking it! Being left alone with this energetic kitten had obviously driven him crazy. He went downstairs and played dead so she would leave him alone. Chuckling to myself, I made him ‘wake up’. Mali changed from distressed kitten crying to joyful greeting mews with full body rubs and relieved purring for both of us. Mali was so happy. I had fixed Klinger for her. Klinger meanwhile gave me one of the dirtiest “if looks could kill” irritated feline glares I have ever been subjected to.

Did you know cats will play dead? I certainly did not.


Dried Pepper Prepping

I like eating these multicoloured sweet peppers because they taste great, they are low calorie and eating lots of bright colourful foods helps to stave off macular degeneration. If I cut up a bunch of fresh peppers in strips and leave them in the fridge handy to eat, we snack on those instead of stuff like cookies. I also like using peppers in many of my favourite dishes. Last spring I bought a lot of fresh coloured peppers and soon found myself with a bunch of peppers slowly turning to mush. I hauled out my dehydrator and cut the peppers into small pieces and dried them. The result was remarkably effective. The dried peppers can be easily stored in a jar near the stove so anytime I want them, I can add a few dried peppers to a dish. This has worked really well for sauces, stews, soups and more recently my vegetable quiche.

My dried peppers from April. They have slowly turned more brown than coloured but they still taste great when rehydrated.

In Canada, we get our fresh peppers imported from South American and the USA in winter. During the spring, summer and fall, we also get them from Canadian greenhouses. There have been shortages of fresh peppers this year due to both labour issues in local greenhouses and trouble with the supply chain for stuff from the south. When there are shortages, there are also crazy sky high prices. I did manage to get peppers to grow in the garden this year after five summers of failure. I did not need to buy fresh peppers for nearly three months which was great given how pricey they are. I have big plans for next summer’s garden. My supply this summer just met our day to day eating needs so I had none to put by for winter.

As it happened, during my last trip to town, beautiful peppers were relatively cheap and in fine condition. I bought a lot of them. Later that evening I washed most of them carefully, sliced them into small bits and left them in the dryer overnight. By the next afternoon I had two jars of dried peppers for use over the winter. That is double the amount I put by in April. Last time I did this it was a desperate bid to avoid food waste. This time, drying was a deliberate plan. I will still pay those crazy high prices for a few fresh peppers for snacks but I will use these dried ones for cooking. This pandemic is teaching me lots of new ways to cope with food shortages and high prices. This tactic for sweet peppers is easy.

Peppers nearly dry enough for storage. They retain their bright color for several weeks after drying but do eventually fade to a dull brown. When rehydrated though, even the brownish ones still provide great flavour in dishes.

Manitoba Gold – Fall Colours

I grew up in Quebec where fall colours are celebrated. As a child I recall how the radio announcer would breathlessly advise us that this week the colours were declared to be at their peak. My parents would take us on a drive to the Laurentians to see the display. During our full time travel trailer life, my husband and I moved slowly south and we got to enjoy those fall colours beginning in Boston and moving south for nearly nine weeks before we reached Florida. Part of our journey overlapped with a formal RVer tour that began in Newfoundland and followed the leaves south to Florida. The participants just raved about how great that trip was.

Fall in Manitoba is different and a bit of a disappointment by comparison. One reason is that there are no full sized trees that turn flaming red and purple the way it happens in the east. Here the colour of the tallest trees is invariably gold tones. Red and purple and deep oranges are only found in the understory. Plus, with a few exceptions Manitoba is so flat. There is no display climbing the mountain sides. Once I got used to the difference, I began to appreciate Manitoba’s subtler fall scenery. This week the colours are in full glorious display. I am enjoying this beauty a lot more this year.

This little tree is a hardy apricot. It is supposed to produce apricots when it matures even growing in our fridge Zone 3a region. I bought two of them for the possibility of my husband’s favourite fruit, assuming we should live so long. Imagine my delight to discover this little apricot tree turns as brilliant an orange as any of the finest oranges in Quebec. Planting this tree was an act of faith in our future.
This bush is turning from the top down. It almost looks like it is on fire. The green spruce beside it was only six inches tall when we moved in. It doesn’t seem like our fifth fall here already but it is.
Here is an example of how reds are limited to the understory in Manitoba. These vines are as red and lovely as any Quebec maple. You just have to look down not up to find red.
The tamarack, a close relative of the Siberian larch, is a native tree that tolerates wet. After having two regal evergreens die in this low spot always damp to soaked, I put a tamarack seedling in instead. It has thrived. The tamarack turns a brilliant gold in the fall, drops its needles, and then grows new ones in the spring. This little tree is halfway to gold now and is the prettiest bright yellow/green.
My neighbour’s glorious paper birches turn a particularly brilliant gold bringing me much pleasure in fall. Bonus: I don’t have to rake those leaves.
I took this picture on a very windy day. I didn’t see the bumblebee taking shelter there until afterward. Clever bee, shelter and food in one spot. The sunflower is a wonderful contrast of yellow and brown. I plant Russian giants every year and almost always have a few blooming in the fall. I leave them standing through the winter and the birds always pick the seeds clean.
This aging apple tree is called by the locals here a “throwing apple” tree. It sits on the edge of our property looking more wretched and miserable each year. The apples taste like wood and have a texture only slightly better than sawdust, hence they are good for nothing but throwing. Once the fruit has frozen, it gets soft, slightly ferments and sweetens. Still unfit for humans, deer love to come into town to eat them in winter. The tree goes from green straight to brown but the apples have a lovely soft peach tinted orange this time of year, adding a cheerful variation on the fall colours. So we let it continue its slow decline because of its redeeming qualities.

I see some parallels with my fall experience and my own aging. When I think only of the beautiful fall colours I had in my youth in another place and time, Manitoba gold seems subdued, less. But when I stop comparing this to my memories of the past and concentrate on what I have here and now, Manitoba Gold is stunning and wonderful.

Quiche for My Prepping,

I have a bunch of frozen food from my pre COVID stock up on groceries in my freezers. I am trying to rotate out the foods I put in the freezer so they get used up and next trip to the grocery store I’ll replace them. Every other nook and cranny of my freezer is full of veggies like frozen zucchini and green and yellow beans. I mean the freezers are bursting. I have to rearrange things to get the doors closed. I had to pick all the tomatoes off the vines and they are ripening rapidly in my basement faster than we can eat them. So I was searching for a meal that would help me tackle all of that bounty.

I have never tried making a quiche. Most quiches I have tried are clunky and yucky. Far too many of them have come loaded with cooked spinach. I am not a fan of cooked spinach. However I decided I might try this anyway. Maybe a quiche without spinach might taste good. This quiche recipe requires five eggs and would help use up some of those 15 dozen I purchased earlier. It also called for two cups of vegetables or meat. There was a warning that it could get mushy with too much liquid so be prepared to have it take longer to bake. Right away that appealed to me. I had a plan.

Why would mushy appeal? Last spring when the whole COVID thing hit I stocked up on far too many fresh mushrooms, assorted fresh coloured sweet peppers, turnips and celery. When they started to turn, I hauled out my food dehydrator and dried the excess. Then over the summer I dried lots more. My pantry is almost as full of dried foods as my freezers are with frozen. I decided to try using some of the dehydrated and frozen veggies I have in a quiche. The recipe ended up like this.

5 fresh eggs from my too many eggs from the 15 dozen case I bought from the Hutterites

1/2 cup frozen thawed milk (Milk freezes reasonably well, even more so with the lactose free stuff I use but I do need to rotate the milk as nine months is about the maximum it comes out tasting normal.)

1/2 cup frozen thawed cheese (I have been pleasantly surprised how well cheeses freeze. You almost can’t tell if it has been frozen.) I grated marble cheddar for the quiche.

1 of my extremely large over ripe bush beefsteak tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup of my dehydrated mixed sweet peppers

1/4 cup dehydrated mushrooms

2 tablespoon of frozen parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

just the tiniest dash of salt to avoid upsetting Hubby Dearests’ blood pressure

I made up the balance of the two cups of veggies with frozen chopped yellow zucchini from my summer bounty

Due to my intolerance for wheat, I made the crust with coconut oil and white rice flour. It ended up needing almost an hour of baking but the result was positively heavenly. The top was crusty golden and delicious from the cheese. The zucchini was soft and sweet. The mushroom flavour came through loud and clear. The green peppers were delicious. The eggs/cheese/milk was light and fluffy. The crust, meh, white rice flour is grainy but edible. I don’t intend to buy white rice flour anymore because brown rice flour is so much better but I did use up a cup and half of that.

Hubby dearest pronounced the meal a delicious success and he ate with gusto.

So another dish for my prepper pantry list. Quiche is a great way to use up excess fresh, dehydrated and previously frozen items from the freezer.

I read in the news a few months ago of a woman who had $20,000 worth of food in her basement when she passed away. Most of it had to be thrown out because it was out of date or had gone bad. She was a not a prepper. She was a hoarder. I intend to never throw out any of my food preps and I intend to eat them all. If you only buy and store food you will eat, and rotate your food and use it, prepping ends up costing very little after the initial stocking up. Quiche is a great addition to my recipe list.

Frozen Yogurt and Whey Dessert


I previously shared how I have figured out how to make nice yogurt from powdered milk and frozen commercial yogurt starter. My husband is a big fan of ice cream but he can’t have it because when he gets into the ice cream his lipids in the triglycerides part skyrocket. He only gets real ice cream on the rare occasion we are away from home and buying it from some special summer shop. Over this past summer we found a nice compromise for his much needed ice cream fix at home.

The other great thing about it is it works really well on banana so overripe they are almost black. We can often find really overripe bananas in the clearance section for low prices. My husband is particularly good at scrounging for them. He then peels them, freezes them solid on a cookie sheet and bags them after they are frozen. I can easily pull out an individual frozen one for cooking or baking later.

I began with this recipe for Chocolate and Banana Frozen Yogurt. It came out very nicely but my husband complained it was too rich. Too much chocolate and too thick. Now that’s not normally something I would consider a problem with dessert but since he’s the one who eats it, I decided to listen. (I am one of those strange people who does not like ice cream.) I modified the recipe to suit him. I found if I increase the amount of yogurt from 1/4 cup to 1 full cup, it comes out the way he likes it. I also found that I can substitute half whey or use watery yogurt and he still likes it. That makes it even more valuable because if a batch of yogurt comes out weak and watery, it doesn’t go to waste. So here it is as I modified it. I would strongly advise starting with the original recipe I linked to above and modifying it later because I LIKE super rich and super chocolaty dessert but that’s your choice.

This requires a high quality blender to work. One of my sons gave me a Ninja version and I absolutely love it.


2 frozen medium bananas (2 cups/10oz/284g) banana frozen

2 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar

1 cup (8oz/250g) plain yogurt (greek, non-fat or full fat) or half yogurt half whey

1⁄3 cup (11/3oz/37g) cocoa powder

2 tsp Vanilla extract


  1. Add the frozen bananas, honey (or agave nectar), yogurt, cocoa powder and vanilla extract into a food processor (or liquidizer).
  2. Process until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl to make sure there are no lumps left.
  3. Transfer it to an airtight freezable container and freeze for a minimum 6 hours but preferably overnight. Store it in thefreezer for up to 1 month.

Recipe Notes

Fresh bananas can be used in place of frozen, however the bananas must be frozen solid. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Weight Watchers Points: 5
Smart Points: 9

Many thanks to Gemma Stafford for the original recipe.

A Rabbi once told me anything you like to eat will have a Kosher version. When it comes to food that causes health issues (like goofy triglyceride metabolism) it’s apparently true.

Too Much Spaghetti Squash and Too Many Eggs

One of the things about having your own garden is that no matter how much you plan your garden, something refuses to grow and something else grows in such abundance you are overrun. This year the low producers were cucumbers. We got enough to eat but not enough to pickle more than a few jars. The plant that went crazy nuts overgrowing and over producing was spaghetti squash. Not only did I get lots myself, a neighbour walked down the street handing out her overabundance to anyone she could find who take a few. She insisted on giving me three more huge ones. I couldn’t say no to such big beautiful spaghetti squash even though I had several more sitting in a cool spot in my basement already.

We do like spaghetti squash. No doubt about it. But I have always thought the only way to eat it was as a poor replacement for pasta. My husband likes it for snacking, heated with butter in the microwave. Even so, there was absolutely no way we could even begin to eat our way through all the bounty. Spaghetti squash is a summer squash meaning it won’t keep through the winter. It was time to get creative.

The other over abundance we were dealing with was eggs. A member of our local Hutterite colony came by selling eggs for $2/dozen. (Eggs are currently running $4-$7/doz in store.) I’m not sure why he had such abundance when only a few weeks ago we were limited in store to one dozen at a time. Nonetheless, he was selling at $2 each. The catch was you had to buy a whole case of either 15 or 30 dozen. Ouch! Well it was just too good a deal to turn down after that shortage, The colonies have been hit hard by COVID-19. Either because it went like though like a wildfire due to their communal lifestyle or because, if they came from a colony that didn’t get infected, they had to deal with stigma from the rest of us. How could I say no to his eggs? So I bought the smaller case of 15. (The picture below is a random one off the internet but it could be him, they look so much alike.)

Now I have an over abundance of eggs and an over abundance of spaghetti squash. Eggs can keep for weeks in the fridge. Even though we are daily egg eaters, 15 dozen was far more than we could go through. I mixed up several batches of a dozen eggs and then poured the lightly beaten mess into ice cube trays and froze them. I then popped them out of the ice cube tray and bagged the cubes. I can use those cubes over the winter in baking and cooking, one cube equaling one egg. That will come in especially handy if there is a second wave and we have a shortage of fresh eggs. If there’s no shortage I won’t have to buy as many.

I was searching the internet for alternative uses for spaghetti squash when I came across a recipe for Baked Eggs and Spaghettis Squash Nests. I mixed it up, replaced rice flour for the wheat flour and it came out beautifully. I read the reviews and some people complained it was soggy. Spaghetti squash have highly variable amounts of water. Early in the afternoon I cooked the two smallest squash in a pot of boiling water, peeled off the skins and cleaned the seeds out. I then let the strands cool in a bowl in the refrigerator. I periodically poured off the water collecting on the bottom before mixing the batter. I also found I had to bake the cups a lot longer than the recipe said because they were too soft. Even so, the final result was heavenly! A crispy golden herbed base and yummy eggs baked to perfection with just a hint of cheese flavour. It was not a meal I want to eat often but it was a pleasant treat and a nice change from our regular meat and potato type meals.

As a bonus, the recipe uses 1 1/2 cup of squash for a half dozen egg cups so we had some leftover squash. We tried that fried up for breakfast the next day. It came out very nicely, sort of cross between zucchini and hash browns. Breakfast fry will be another great use for all that the stringy squash!

Life often gives us over abundance in some places and shortages in others. We can either get creative and deal with stuff in new ways or we can feel sorry for ourselves. I try to always choose to be creative.

Mali – Updated

Our Mali (jasmine blossom in Thai), also known as Malika (Queen in Thai) arrived weighing 1 pound 2 oz (510grams). (Pictured on my keyboard above, right) She is a voracious eater still demanding food at least four times a day without any fat on her. All this eating is naturally resulting in a lot of growing. She is now 3 pounds, 1 oz (1400grams). (Picture above, left) She has nearly tripled her weight. Mali had a bad case of worms on arrival and she has been dewormed three times since. This has dramatically improved her fur which is now soft and glossy and has lost all of its former rough look.

Mali has had 2/3 of her kitten vaccinations. After the second vaccination she has a bad reaction and slept for nearly 24 hours refusing to eat and acting very depressed. She then developed a nasty pea sized lump at the injection site. This has since almost vanished. I once lost a cat to distemper and her reaction, scary as it was, is far less of a problem than a bout of distemper so we will be doing shot #3 on schedule. I will alert the vet to what happened and see about maybe spreading things out and perhaps waiting if he wants to do another deworming. We initially confined Mali where she went in the house. She now goes everywhere, including up and down the basement stairs.

Mali watching TV while Klinger Snoozes

We have begun toilet training her as we did Klinger. She is adjusting much more quickly to her rising litter box than Klinger did. Being young and flexible makes new tricks easy. We have also taken her for many truck rides. I don’t want her frightened about riding in a vehicle and so we deliberately exposed her to lots of truck rides during her “critical period”. She really enjoys riding in the truck. She’ll perch on my headrest and watch the world go by. Once she’s worn out, she curls up in my lap and sleeps for the rest of the trip. Mali is also a big fan of TV. She absolutely loves sitting on the bed and watching TV videos, especially ones involving cats or designed for cats.

Mali is a bundle of energy into everything and constantly on alert to something new. She sleeps through the night now but wakes me demanding food promptly at dawn. The days are getting longer as we near the fall equinox I am fine with that. Dawn now comes about the time I wake up on my own anyway. She is a wonderfully affectionate cat. She can’t get enough cuddles and ear scritches. She loves to sleep on or near one of us. She purrs about almost everything. She has begun to lose her kitten mew and it is becoming more and more like a cat meow. She has lost her kitten clumsiness. She now races about the house, leaping, climbing, running, dancing sideways, and managing remarkable acrobatic feats. She’s bold and bossy and hasn’t a bit of shyness to her character.

Misty has continued her love affair over “her” kitten. They often sleep together. Much to my relief, Mali is getting along very well with Klinger. Klinger is far too old and dignified for kitten play fights. He will play swat back from a safe location. He also gives her polite cat nose touch greetings and an occasional nuzzle. He allows her to sleep touching him if she’s quiet. They even do a little bit of mutual grooming as long as she doesn’t try to turn it into a wrestling match. When Hubby Dearest stepped on her tail and she let out that blood curdling cat scream, everyone reacted. Misty was horrified. Klinger came running up from the basement to make sure Mali was all right. He gave her a comforting lick on the face and an all over sniffing. (Mali was fine and she’s gotten much better at dodging the big guy’s feet. Dick was far more upset about the event than anyone else was.)

Mali and Misty snuggling.

Mali has brought new life and joy to our household. She has been worth every knocked over plant, every fresh scratch, and even having to clean a litterbox again (temporarily). We do love our Malika.