Robbie Burns Night – Cock-a-leekie Soup

Robbie Burns Night – Cock-a-leekie Soup
For a couple years now, friends of mine host a Robbie Burns Night supper on the
weekend nearest to Robbie Burns’ Birthday on January 25. This year we celebrated
early, so let the pot luck commence!230px-pg_1063burns_naysmithcrop
We do the party potluck style, with everyone bringing a traditional Scottish dish to be part of our feast. Our host provides Haggis, both meaty and vegetarian, and we supply the mashed neeps (turnips), mashed tatties (potatoes), roasted veg,and cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leeks). Shortbread and other goodies are also popular, and we enjoy some Scotch and other spirits.
For the past couple years I have been tasked with bringing soup. The first year I found my recipe in a book that was published for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and was full of traditional dishseven-british-cook-book-coveres from around the United Kingdom. However, that first year it was a bit
bland so last year I set out to make a much better soup recipe. This year I’ve got it down to an art, and I’m going to share it with you.
Since it’s essentially just a glorified Chicken Soup recipe, this is also a good one to have on hand for days not meant to celebrate Scottish Poets and food. But like my grandmother I don’t have an exact recipe, since it mostly involves throwing soup ingredients into a crockpot and letting it simmer until hot and delicious.
Ingredients, listed in order of importance:
3-5 Chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
6-8 cups Chicken Stock
1 large Leek
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper
Herbs and Spices, including Sage, Thyme and Rosemary
Butter
Carrots
Celery
Yellow Onions
img_20170122_1710174Fill a large crockpot or soup pot with chicken stock and let simmer on low. Finely chop your herbs and add to the broth to simmer.

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Prepare your chicken breasts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Thyme. Roast for 15-20 minutes at 350F until done. Pull apart and shred with a fork.img_20170122_1713193

Chop your vegetables into bite sized chunks. If you’re not familiar with chopping a leek,
cut it in half length wise and rinse it in cold water. Then slice it width wise into bite sized pieces.
A leek is a sweeter tasting onion, and looks kind of like a really big green onion. You can
include from just above the bottom of the leek to where the
stalk starts to split into leaves.
img_20170122_1703203How much vegetables you want to include is based on how you like you’re soup. I like to
have lots, so I usually do 7 – 8 carrots, 4–5 stalks of celery and a full onion.
img_20170122_1721271Fry your vegetables in butter, and let cook until soft.
Add chicken and vegetables to the pot and let cook for at least an hour to get the full flavour.
Enjoy!
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For a proper Robbie Burns Night Feast remember to read the Selkirk Grace (a poem by Burns), the Ode to Haggis (Also by Burns), and enjoy lots of food and Scotch. After dinner read poetry, preferably of the Scottish Variety, watch a Scottish movie (or one with Scottish actors) and sing Auld Lang Syne.
Now you’re prepared for tonight’s festivities.
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My Own Private Spa Night

My Own Private Spa Night

Last week’s post got me thinking about how much I miss soaking in the tub. Alone. Because of my work I travel quite a lot, thus the “on the road” part of the blog title. I love the big, luxurious hotel bathtubs, often made for two people and with jets. But I often end up not getting to use them because I’m working, or taking care of Sam.

So today I’m making bath salts and bath bombs on the off chance that I can convince my husband that I should be able to lock myself in the bathroom for an hour this weekend and he should watch the baby. If not, I’ll just have to wait until Sam goes down for a nap.

Bath salts are super easy, and everything you add to them is just to make it more relaxing or purifying. There’s no exact recipe so it’s up to you what you feel like adding. However, the two best additives to make your bath more purifying are baking soda and green tea.img_0015

I start with about a cup of Epsom salts, the kind you buy at the drug store in a big bag. If you plan on adding to it, don’t get a scented bag. I find the scents already included pretty overwhelming, so I try and go for unscented all the time.img_0017

Then add in about ½ cup or more of baking soda. Baking soda helps pull the toxins out of your skin and can help if you think you’re coming down with something. I haven’t gotten to take a bath while sick, but I would compare the feeling of getting out of the bath after using this recipe to the end of a really good Hot Yoga class.img_0018

Next add in eucalyptus essential oils and green tea. I used white tea this time, but green tea is much better for a detox bath. I have used good stuff from David’s Tea, and I have used cheap stuff from Walmart. Both work fine, just whatever you have. Green tea is both detoxifying and regenerating.img_0019

To get the most out of a detoxifying bath, run the water as hot as you can comfortably handle, pour in half the salt mixture and soak for at least half an hour. If you feel light headed, get out earlier. When you’re done, be sure to drink lots of water!

If you just want to have a relaxing bath, start with 1 cup of Epsom salts.

Add in ¼ cup baking soda, this makes it a little fizzy but not as strong.

Add in an essential oil of your choosing, personally I like peppermint, lavender or chamomile. You can also add in a complimentary tea (peppermint with peppermint, chamomile with chamomile, ect).

Run the bath water warm, but not super-hot. If possible, follow up your bath with a glass of wine.

 

If you feel like getting fancy, or making gifts for family, you can also make your own bath bombs. A couple years ago I made my mom a “spa in a box” with all homemade bath stuff. She loved it and it was really easy.img_0016

One of the best recipes I found when I made them for my mom came from here because the recipe is for 1 bath bomb.

You start with:

2 parts baking soda

1 part citric acid

1 part Epsom salt and

1 part cornstarch. (For one bomb, each part is about a tablespoon. If you wanted to make more, or bigger ones, make 1 part equal a cup)

img_0020Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add ⅓ part (about 1 tsp) of oil mixed with essential oils. I find Sweet Almond Oil or Coconut oil works best, but you can also use canola or olive oil.

If you want them to look really pretty add a couple drops of food colouring. Like the sugar scrubs last week, they won’t stain your skin, just look pretty.

img_0021Mix everything together and press into either a mold or a large muffin tin (I’m actually using a small tupperware container). Silicon molds work great because it’s easy to get them back out after they’re done. Let them sit in the mold for a couple hours, or even overnight. When you pop them out of the mold you might lose a little bit, but that’s ok. Pack them air tight in a jar to keep moisture out.

When you’re ready, just drop it in the bath and enjoy the fizzy, relaxing sensation.

It Only Looks Fancy; Creme Brulee for Two

It Only Looks Fancy; Creme Brulee for Two

Every once in a while I like to do something fun and fancy for my husband. Sometimes it’s for a special event, like our anniversary or Valentine’s Day, and other times it’s just for fun. I also like to pretend I’m a fancy a chef like my brother and hiimg_20170114_1737521s fiancée actually are. Either way, my go to way of making myself feel fancy in the kitchen is by making Crème Brûlée.

My brother bought me all the stuff to make crème brûlée a couple years ago, and since then it’s been a go to favourite in our house. However, most recipes are for six and I really only need two. Once I made a dozen for a friend’s birthday, but usually it’s just my husband and I (and Sam, but he doesn’t get any yet). So for your convenience I have scaled down my favourite crème brûlée recipe so that it makes exactly enough to share. Plus, my favourite variation for extra special “pretend it’s fancy” occasions.

Vanilla Crème Brûlée for two

2 egg yolks

⅔ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla (or one vanilla bean)

+ optional Cappuccino Creme  Brûlée

2 tsp espresso or strong coffee

1 tbsp Baileys or Kahlua

Preheat oven to 275oFimg_20170114_1730400

In a medium bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar until dissolved.img_20170114_1731285Pour in cream, vanilla and espresso and Baileys if using, and whisk until combined.img_20170114_1732443

Place 2 standard sized flan dishes into a baking pan (a 9×13 cake pan works perfectly) and divide the custard evenly between them.img_20170114_1736489

Pour about 2 cups of water in the baking pan around the flan dishes, so the water is about half way up the sides. This helps the custard cook evenly all the way through without overcooking on top.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the custard jiggles slightly.img_20170114_2154282

Remove from the oven and lift the dishes out of the hot water. My brother has no feeling in his fingers and just pulls them out, but I recommend using a large flipper to lift them out without burning yourself or getting your oven mitts wet.

Let cool for a couple minutes and then move to the fridge. Let them set in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but up to 2 days if you’re planning ahead.img_20170114_2158516

When ready to serve, sprinkle about a tsp of sugar evenly over top of each one. If you have a handheld torch, use that to brown the sugar on top. If you don’t have a torch, set your oven to “broil”, move one rack up to the top position and place the dishes back in the oven for a few minutes. Not too long or the custard will melt, but long enough that the sugar to melt and slightly brown.

 

There you have it! Crème Brûlée for two.

 

 

 

Flu Season and Sugar Scrubs

Flu Season and Sugar Scrubs

This last weekend threw a wrench in my blog plans for this week. I wanted to do a post about another really fun crochet project I found last month, but instead I spent the weekend sleeping off a nasty flu bug and got nothing really accomplished. On the plus side, I think I lost 2 lbs this weekend, although I’ve done cleanses that were more fun.

Instead, today I want to share some of my favourite sugar scrub recipes! Especially since after the flu I always feel like I need a spa treatment to get the rest of the sick out.

Two summers ago a girl friend and I did a craft fair. The intention was to go to farmers markets and other craft fairs, but the summer kind of got away from me and I ended up not being around enough to be a good business partner. One of the things we made and I still love using, is sugar scrubs. I have one in the shower and I use it before I shave my legs, so now I have pretty, smooth legs (that have stretch marks, but hey I had a baby).

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I’m going to share three different recipes with you, each done a different way, but the nicest thing about this project is: There are no rules! You can literally play with the recipe until you find what works for you and then go from there.

You need a few basic things to start:

Sugar – White or brown

Oil (coconut or baby oil work particularly well)

Essential Oils

A cute jar to put it in

And that’s it! Mix it up until it looks and feels smooth, put it in a jar and enjoy.

Alright, I’ll get a little more technical than that. Here are my three favourite scrubs.

  1. Sunshine Citrus Scrub

Pour about a cup of sugar into a clean bowl.img_20170110_1950121

Add about ½ cup melted coconut oil and stir until incorporated. It won’t be perfectly smooth, but not clumpy either.img_20170110_1951197

At room temperature the coconut oil will solidify again, but it gets nice and melted in a hot shower.

Mix in 6 drops of orange essential oil, and 6 drops lemon essential oil.

You can also mix in a couple drops of food colouring. It won’t stain your skin, the oil actually protects you from it, just don’t add a lot.img_20170110_1957571

Pour into your little jar and enjoy!

 

  1. Wake Up Coffee Scrub

Start with about ½ cup brown sugar and add in about ½ cup ground coffee. I have a grinder because I have an espresso maker, but you could use store bought coffee or fresh ground from Starbucks.img_20170110_2002275

Add about ½ cup melted coconut oil and stir until smooth.

Add 10 drops orange essential oil for added wake up power.

This one is nice because coffee has some really nice effects on your skin. On top of that, it feels amazing and you end up smelling like a latte.img_20170110_2004031

 

  1. Peppermint Cloud Scrub

Start with your cup of sugar.

This time add in baby oil until its smooth. Baby oil is also great for your skin, same as it is for baby. Luckily Sam’s skin is pretty much perfect, but since mine is not I often end up using his baby oil.

Add in a couple drops of peppermint essential oil and enjoy! This one is great for using before shaving. I find coconut oil sometimes coats my razor and I spend a lot of time cleaning it back out of the blades.

 

Now that you have the basics you can run with it! Mix whichever scents you enjoy with whichever type of oil or sugar you prefer. Use them when you wash your hands or in the shower. I don’t recommend putting it on your face, although I haven’t personally tried it.

Oh! Bonus scrub for the guys.

Mix sugar with body wash or dawn dish soap and tea tree oil to create a scrub that guys appreciate. I made one for my step dad, a welder, and he loved it. We teasingly call it “Beast Mode”.

Using Dawn means it has a bit of a degreaser and can help with dirty hands after a day in the shop. You could use it too if you’re into working on cars, or out in the garden, on your bike, ect.

Enjoy!

A Christmas Cookie Tradition: Pfefferkuchen

A Christmas Cookie Tradition: Pfefferkuchen

Welcome back! Today I want to share a little piece of my family’s holiday tradition when it comes to Christmas baking. To go along with this little piece of my family, I’d like to tell you a little more about myself.

I think the most important thing to know about me, since you’re reading something written by me, is that I am not an artsy, creative personality type. I am a data, math and thinking type. Specifically, if you know much about Personality Theory, I am an INTJ. That would be the type attributed to just about every villain or anti-hero ever.img_00000231

It stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging. It means I’m detail oriented more than I’m people oriented, and I aim to be organized and analytical. I’m kind of quiet and shy unless I’m talking about something I really love. Like cookies or personality theory.

I majored in Physics and minored in Psychology, and I am a total nerd. However, as I said last time, I love crafts and cooking. And it probably goes back to my grandparents, who filled my life with crafts, food and freedom to explore. My brother and I were allowed to create, run around, and generally be ourselves so long as we didn’t wreck the place, and for the most part we did just that.

img-20111214-00028At Christmas my grandma is famous for her cookies. She bakes enough to share with everyone, have plenty to put out with coffee or while we’re playing board games, and to give to relatives for Christmas presents. She makes a beautiful array of treats, but everyone’s favourite is Pfefferkuchen.

When I say it’s a family tradition, my grandma has made these cookies every year for 55 years, ever since she met my grandpa.

Pfefferkuchen is a German cookie that is kind of like a very strong gingerbread. It has a bunch of different spices and can be decorated with royal icing. I’ve seen recipes online, and I’m sure they’re great, but today I want to share Grandma’s Pfefferkuchen recipe and the insane way our family has decorated cookies for 55+ years.

Pfefferkuchen Makes about 75 cookies
2 cups honey 1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar 1 tsp star anise
1 cup melted butter 1 tsp black pepper
2 large eggs ½ tsp allspice
6 cups flour 1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp almond flavour 1 tsp coriander
½ tsp salt 1 tbsp grated orange peel
15 grams (about 1 tbsp)  potash dissolved in ¼ cup water  

Dissolve potash in water and set aside. You can buy cooking potash online on Amazon, or at some gourmet food stores.img-20111214-00027

In a large stand mixer mix honey, sugar, butter and eggs until combined

Add in salt, almond flavour, dissolved potash and all spices.

Slowly add flour, half a cup at a time until dough resembles sugar cookie dough. It’s a lot of flour so you might need to switch to a dough hook or knead the dough by hand to get it into a ball.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Now the fun part! Roll out your dough a little bit at a time onto a lightly floured surface. It should be about a ¼ inch thick. Using your favourite cookie cutters, cut the dough into different shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. If you’re concerned about sticking, put parchment paper on the baking sheets, and then put the cookies on top.img_00000229

If you want to decorate them like gingerbread, bake the cookies at this point. They bake in 8-10 minutes at 350oF. However, this is not the point we usually bake them. Once all the cookies are on baking trays we decorate each cookie with sprinkles. This is a time-consuming process and I’ll admit I didn’t have time to make and decorate cookies myself, so I just went over to grandma’s and decorated hers.

Get out a clean pair of tweezers and hit up Bulk Barn. We place each individual sprinkle in the divots left by the cookie cutters, or if they don’t have divots we draw our own with a toothpick.

Seriously.img_20161202_1555040

My brother does not have this level of patience. He decorates with royal icing or just dumps coloured sugar on them and bakes them. However, if you have the time and the patience it does look pretty amazing when it’s done.

They are best enjoyed with coffee and a rowdy game of dominoes.

New Year New Blog Temperature Blanket

New Year New Blog Temperature Blanket

Welcome to Crafty Mom on the Road! I’m Marissa, the self-proclaimed crafty mom. I actually don’t consider myself overly creative, but I love finding stuff on Pinterest and making it work. I also love to crochet, knit, cross stitch, cook and bake. This blog will be a compilation of all the fun stuff I want to share.

My goal is to post twice a week, one craft and one cooking project. It seems like a lot of work, but since I’m a self-employed book seller I think I’ll have the time. My main time consumer is my new baby! I’m a proud new mommy to a sweet little boy named Sam. I will admit right now I didn’t know how much a person could love until I had him.

I’ll be sure to share lots of fun updates as he grows and learns new things, but for now I want to jump right into a project I learned about exactly a year ago, a Temperature Afghan.

1379784_10153854150848832_8040943738833047698_nOn the left is the picture you’ve probably seen floating around Facebook or Pinterest. The blanket in said picture is not a good indication of how your blanket will look. Below is a picture of my blanket as of August 23, the last day I got to work on it before Sam was born. As you can see, not a lot like the picture. However, still pretty beautiful!

blanket

 

 

 

 

Just to forewarn you, this is a HUGE project, both timewise and size-wise. As the year wrapped up the ladies in my Facebook group were saying their Afghans were measuring up to 15 feet long depending on what kind of pattern or stitch they were using. I don’t usually care about gauge, but measuring your work and determining your length per row can be helpful, if only so you know how big it’s going to get.

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And timewise, it takes the whole year. Or longer if, like me, you have distractions that stop you from working on it every day. Either way it is a fun project and one that has a great story at the end.

The idea is that every day you crochet one row with the colour relating to the temperature outside. You can choose the high that day, or the temperature at a specific time, and then match that to your colour chart and go!

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I haven’t finished my 2016 blanket because Sam doesn’t nap long enough for me to get much done. It’s a slow process in that regard, but I’m hoping to finish mine soon and get the one I started for my mom done by Mother’s Day. I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you want to make one for yourself, or a loved one, let me tell you how to get started and give you some insight from my experience.

First, pick your colours and make your chart. Consider the kind of weather you get in your part of the world. Where I am it goes from -15 Celsius to 40 Celsius over the course of the year so I chose to use 12 colours and have each colour represent approximately a 5 degree range. I used Loops and Threads Impeccable yarn.

Temp

Colour
-15 – -10 Navy
-10 – -5 Amethyst
-5 – 0 Teal
0 – 5 Clear Blue
5 – 10 Aqua
10 – 15 Soft Fern
15 – 20 Fern
20 – 25 Gold
25 – 30 Pumpkin
30 – 35 Rouge
35 – 40

Red

Hold all your colours up next to each other so you know they match and that you like how they look together. For this project nothing would be worse than getting three months in and discovering you don’t like one of your colours, or that it clashes with another colour close by.

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So now that I have a chart I can get started. I used an G hook (5.0 mm) and worked entirely in single crochet. Next time I would probably do a moss or linen stitch because it ends up being lighter and smaller, but whatever you feel comfortable with works. Just remember to consider length since you’ll be doing 365 rows.

So now you can get started. January 1 2016 was -10 so I chained 250 stitches in Amethyst and then did one row. The next day was -8 so I did a row of single crochet in Amethyst. I actually started with half double crochet, but figured out after a few days that my blanket would likely be about 20 feet long if I continued that way. In single crochet it’s still going to be about 8 feet.

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It can be easy to fall behind so I recommend making yourself a temperature chart and recording the temperature as you go, either pen and paper, on a calendar, or as an excel file. If you forget I recommend using a site like Accuweather to look up missed days.

If you don’t feel like doing rows, you can also do granny squares! Lots of ladies in the group did a square a day and you can have a lot of fun with different patterns. Either do the entire square in one colour, or do it with the high in the center and the low around the edge. I want to do one for my sister (eventually, when I have more time) with the square in the high and an appliqué elephant in the low. You could also do larger granny squares for each week or even month.img_20160712_222634

For weeks, start with the temperature on Monday in the center, each round would be a day. 52 weeks doesn’t divide up nicely, but 56 does, so make the square in each corner different, either by doing a rainbow square, or all one colour. Then your blanket will be 7 squares by 8 squares. Months would be the same idea, but 3 squares by 4 without the extra corner squares, or 4 by 4 with them.

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Once you have the idea you can also take it and do other things with it. For a simple and quick daily project you could make a scarf. You could also knit your blanket doing 2 or 3 rows a day, or get fabric and make a quilt. If you feel like doing a bit of research you can make historical blankets for years of significance. You can look up the temperatures online using sites like climate.weather.gc.ca in Canada or wunderground. Both sites allow you to look up information from past years.

So now you’re set! It’s a great project and is sure to keep you busy this year. Make sure to get some coupons for your favourite craft store because you’re going to need a lot of yarn.