Cooking Classes


Day 5 at Kid's Cooking Camp

I don't even know what happened to Day 4!  Day 3 Cupcake Decorating was a very intense day.  Soft buttercream.  Thanks, Marjie at 'Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet' for your input on buttercream.  Apparently shortening doesn't melt so quickly but also does not taste as good.  I opt for taste and health so would still use butter any day.  Just as Marjie does.

This is a display for Canada's Food Guide.  These kids already know alot about nutrition.  I was so impressed.  Day 4 was our junk food day.

I had pictures I didn't even post!  Those amazing Black Forest Cake cupcakes were wonderful and how could I forget to share the picture.

It was crazee!  I had silver dragees scurrying all over my floor and dropping down into my heat vents.  Sugar still crackles beneath my feet!  And the fridge handle.  Wowzer!  Enough sugar there to sweeten my coffee!

I am back in shape now.  Day 4 was a tired day for everyone.  The girls were all sleepy.  They went to the baseball game last night and with the long weekend coming up, had visitors and will be welcoming visitors.  I suggested we start a little later for Day 5 and all agreed.

Everyday someone can cut a flower from my garden for the table centre.  This was the flower for Day 3.

It was so busy in the kitchen that I didn't take pictures!  I was deep frying and didn't dare to even take my eyes off the pot for a moment.  We made onion strings from The Pioneer Woman, french fries from scratch, pizza, cardamom ice cream and Mexican chocolate ice cream.  I can tell you that it is way more work to make junk food than real food.  I will make real food any day of the week before I spend much time on french fries.  We did redeem ourselves by using sea salt, real cream and eggs and no butter today!  Canola oil for frying.  I suggested duck fat (which is as healthy as olive oil) but they were all a little squeamish about it.  No skin off my nose!  I love my duck fat and will enjoy it myself!

So, on to Day 5.  Today is a barbecue!  But before we did that, we had a little chocolate tasting.  It was fun to try a number of single origin chocolates and comparing them to milk and white chocolate.

Barbecues are a favourite way to entertain in this area.   Our summers are short but hot.  We love to get outside.  Everyone is familiar with barbecue.  I thought it would be a fun way to end our wonderful week together.

Yes, our last day!  I am sad to have this end.  It has been a lot of fun and I feel like I am living my dream.  I love to cook and share the love.  What better way than with young 'uns.  I hope they have enjoyed this as much as I have.  I hope they are encouraged to make real food, with real ingredients and think always about the food they eat. 

Cooking School is agreeing with me.  Firstly, I had my 'Adding Flavour to Your Foods with Spices and Herbs'.  That was so much fun.  It was a ton of work to write that class but so rewarding at the same time.  Then it was a BBQ class.  I sent my participants home nicely 'smoked'!  I will work on improving that situation.  And I had my Newcomers Club class.  They were so open and eager and friendly.  It was a delight.  Now I have completed my first 'Kids Camp'.  They are all so much fun for me.  Thank you to all who have participated.  I truly appreciate your support.  I will be coming out with a full program of classes that will begin in October.  I will post the program on my blog and also email everyone on my list.

Cooking Camp Revelations

*  kids are way more afraid to crack an egg than turn on a gas cooktop
*  they are more aware of fats, sugars and nutrients than I thought they would be
*  they mostly have a very adventurous spirit with food then fool you with some little dislike that you would never guess - just like all of us!
*  let them try to make things that seem to be way over their head.  Who knows what their real expectations are anyway.  They adapt and come up with a winner no matter what.
*  next time I would line my floor with plastic before cupcake decorating!  (just kidding)
*  on the first day I should be more cognizant of skill levels.  It took me until Day 2 or 3 before I realized the differing abilities of the participants.  Then, assign duties according to abilities.
*  they love the garden and fresh things - flowers and herbs especially
*  they would naturally reach their fill on what we were doing and take a break in the garden.  Such a great idea that I had never thought about.  I was so task oriented.  A break now and again is wonderful.  It is camp, after all, not school.  Friendship and socializing is just as important.  Plus it gives me a chance to reorganize the kitchen for the next project.
*  all you have to do is ask.  If I am doing all the cleaning, work in the kitchen it is only my problem.  When I ask for help they all jump up and want a job.  So nice.
*  seeing things through the eyes of a child is so refreshing.  You have no idea how many times their questions required me to reframe my thinking.
*  kids love to pose for photos!  It is so cute.  I told them that they were movie stars this week.
*  breakfast is a great time to do the 'teaching' stuff.  I would set the table centre in the theme of the lesson that day.


Day 3 at Kid's Cooking Camp

Finally we are decorating cupcakes!  So many ideas, so little time.  The buttercream they made yesterday was beautiful, but so fragile.  A few minutes in the piping bag with hands on and it was turning soft.  We had to work fast.  Sugared flowers were the favourite.

My kitchen will never be the same!  Blue and chocolate icing in my hardwood floors, sugar here and there and 'who knows what' in my fridge!

It was an intense couple of hours and the gang was ready for a little break.

 Silly faces!
 Happy conversation!

And Greek Salad for lunch.  Only 2 more days...sigh!  It is exhausting (washing aprons and tablecloths every night, setting out the mise en place) but so much fun.  My house will be so quiet when they have finished.

See you tomorrow!


Day 2 at Kid's Cooking Camp

 It was cupcake day!  We baked cupcakes and hey, guess what?  They all turned out!  Yeah!  Tomorrow we will decorate.

Over a breakfast of smoothies and fresh bread, we talked about how to set a table and table etiquette.
 Work station #1.  A very amibitious duo planning to make Black Forest Cake cupcakes!  Yummm
 This was our smoothie work station.  We had frozen fresh picked local strawberries, frozen local saskatoon berries, mango, banana, homemade yogurt, milk and a dash of ground flax or wheat germ.
 Then we put our heads together and started baking.  This was our attempt at chocolate buttercream icing.  I had no idea how I could not help 3 work stations at the same time!  Unfortunately this flopped.  Oh well.  I am making some up tonight so we can carry on tomorrow.  We must have chocolate buttercream icing.
 These are the Black Forest Cake cupcakes.  We are doing it the old fashioned way with 2 big spoons.  I don't have an appropriately sized ice cream scoop.

 And these are vanilla cupcakes with fresh picked raspberries baked into them.  Yum...Yum.  Great idea, girls!  And don't you love that production line?  They know how to move.
And what is making cupcakes without licking off the spoons?
 Now is the time to see how they all baked.  Look at all the smiling faces!  What a bunch of photogenic ladies.

Penny for your thoughts! 


Day 1 with Kid's Cooking Camp

The day has finally arrived for my very first Kid's Cooking Camp.  I have six lovely ladies ages 7-11 who want to have a little fun in the kitchen.

The table was laid with aprons for each.  Cupcakes were something almost all wanted to make.  I made a little 'cupcake idea' centrepiece.

They were all a little shy and quiet when they arrived but soon the fun of it all took over and we had a great time.  It was priceless to see six little ladies with aprons running around my garden with clipboards planning which edible flowers and plants they might use to adorn their cupcake extravaganza.

We started our morning with a French toast made with a chocolate walnut yeasted coffee cake.  So sweet that it only needed a touch of maple syrup.  Then they brainstormed, in pairs, to come up with their ideal cupcakes.

Meanwhile, we also mixed up a batch of rich tomato meat sauce to have with spaghetti another day.

Lunch was homemade pizza creations.

We had fun brainstorming about what else we could make this week.  "Lemonade, we should make lemonade, " I said.  Beverages are always important.  "I bet it would taste good with rosemary," said one gal, "or basil."  Does she know that she has the taste palate of a gourmand?  I kid you not, she came up with this brilliant idea after a tour of my herb garden.  I know this has been in the 'circles' for awhile but this is a little 8 year old who doesn't follow the foodie news.   I will be listening for all her ideas!

I was so amazed by their sense of smell and taste.  We had barely opened my jar of dried oregano and one little lady said, "What is that smell?"  And she was 3 feet away!   They really paid attention also when we did the taste tour of my herb garden.  Hence, the suggestion for rosemary and basil in lemonade.  I am so awed by their creativity.

All was abuzz as they went home to dream of sugar faeries.  Tomorrow we cook our cupcakes and make our buttercream icing.  They are only 8 years old!  Making buttercream icing!  Heaven forbid!


My Garden in July

My lilies are at their prime.  So lovely and brilliant.

My chard and beets loved the rotted sheep manure I added.

The birds love my strawberries.  Now they are as difficult for me to pick as they are for them to steal.

This is not in my garden!  Just had to share.  Went in to the country today looking for some nice photos.


The Charming Mr. Wotherspoon

I have a lovely neighbour.  He is probably about 90 years old.  He always notices the little things I do to improve my home.  For example...

It was the middle of winter and I was in the midst of a full renovation of my house.  The dumpster was full.  I had no window coverings.  They gutted walls, replaced plumbing, rebuilt.  One night I receive a phone call.  "I see a big paint job coming up....." in a waivering voice.

Out of the blue I receive a phone call from a neighbour whom I barely know, whilst I am living amid all my furniture in the basement.  What?  Oh yes, yes, the interior of my home!

"I will be painting it myself,"  I said.  "Well,"  he said, "you did a great job on the exterior of your house.  I am sure it will be wonderful."

Then another day I received another phone call, "You know that tree in your front yard?  It didn't look so healthy last fall, but it is lovely now."

And then my doorbell rang a few days ago.  I am always hesitant to answer an unexpected doorbell.  But I am so glad I did.  It was Mr. Wotherspoon with some fresh cut roses from his garden.

"Not the best," he said.  "They are so lovely,"  I replied.

Am I not the luckiest gal to have a neighbour like this!


Murraydale Ranch Rodeo...103 years old


I spent the day driving through the Cypress Hills area of southwestern Saskatchewan.  These tires were the markers to lead me to the Murraydale Rodeo and Picnic.  This is the longest continuously running rodeo in the province.  It is located in a natural amphitheatre within the Cypress Hills.

This is a great little video introducing you to the Park.

It is literally in the middle of nowhere!  I had crude instructions on finding it.  I turned off the Trans Canada Highway at Tompkins and headed south into the Cypress Hills and up on the bench.  The most beautiful parts of the road trip were also the places I could not stop and pull off the road. 

The Cypress Hills, which were never glaciated, have a rich and exciting history. They are known as an erosional plateau having been formed by millions of years of sedimentary deposition followed by millions of years of erosion. An archaeology project started in the 1970’s has revealed human inhabitation of the hills for more than 8,500 years.  (from the Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta website)  But I have to say that I didn't take any pictures in some of the most scenic spots! 
Driving south up into the Cypress Hills and onto the bench.

The Cypress Hills bench in the background.

 Most of my pictures are from the rodeo.  This is a big family event.  There were a few real rodeo cowboys riding broncs and wild bulls but a lot of the events were for the children.
The children work in teams of 4 and have to catch a calf and ride it for a specified amount of time.  The girls are just as tough as the boys!  You have to be in shape for this.  They ran back and forth around that arena for about 20 minutes.

Then it was time to just people watch!
Yes, collecting recyclables in a beer box!

This little guy loved being on his horse!  He was strapped in so he wouldn't fall and looked as comfortable as can be.  His Mom held the reins.