Repurposed Wood Shelves into Country Style Crates – Do It Yourself

repurposed wood turned into crates

I found an old, solid wood shelf in the trash and stared at it.  I also had some pallet wood left over from another old shelf.

What to do.

Repurposing wood into something new takes some thought.  What is the shape of the wood? How much of the shape can be used without altering it too much? What kind of creation becomes the result only takes your imagination and some effort.

I sawed apart the shelving into sections and sanded off the old and extremely ugly varnish.  The wood underneath was beautiful.  Then it finally occurred to me: the wood & shape of the shelving reminded me of those old fashioned country style fruit and veggie crates.  Only even better.

So, with the help of some pallet wood I already had, I cut it into 2 bases and 1 top, allowing me to not only have a crate, but a chest as well.  A few screws and a bit more sanding and going from nothing to something:

Cost: A couple dozen screws & time.

Please consider repurposing when designing in your home.  There are so many creative ideas out there!

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Lemon Vinegar – The Art of Homemade, Safe Cleaning

Vinegar. A versatile & classic liquid, used in cooking & cleaning.

When it comes to cleaning, it’s a natural disinfectant, a brilliant cleaner, but … it stinks.

Salt & Vinegar Fish & Chips, sure, loves it! But not a house that smells like pure vinegar?  Too abrasive to the senses.

Hence, a formula for Lemon Vinegar.

Now, you can use orange peels if you like … I’m a lemon girl!

What you need:

500 ml Mason Jar or whatever size you wish

Peel from 2 -3 lemons (add more for bigger jar)

Vinegar

How to do it:

Place peels in jar. Fill to top with vinegar. Cap tightly.

Let sit in a cool, dark place for about 14 days, give or take.

ET VOILA!

Lemon scented vinegar to be used for making the house not only shine its cleanest, but smell like bright, fresh lemons!

Enjoy.

Green Tomatoes? Chow Down On Canadiana Style Chow Chow – Fresh Gardening Recipe

The Art of a Great Chow Chow

This year, I’m on the verge of  a tantalizingly tasty tomato crop.  Reds, yellows & even purples I have painstakingly been gardening in a very organic fashion.  But I always find some that have found a home on the ground, or a few that have a brown patch or two … and besides, I don’t always want to wait for the September for the last of the green tomatoes to make something with them … something called Chow Chow.

Many of you have been reading about the horrors of genetically modified produce & meat, and I have been doing my best to avoid GMOs & processed foods.  Corn syrup, for instance, has given rise to heated arguments between scientists & health specialists & all kinds of people, and we all know we find it in everything.

One thing it’s in is Catsup. Or Ketchup. Heinz lists it here in Canada as ‘liquid syrup’, but we all know it’s genetically modified corn syrup.

Catsup or Ketchup is for some, like butter is to bread … a marvellously sweet, spicy & salty condiment that goes with everything from the classic french fry to being used as a flavour enhancer in curry sauces.

I don’t like bottled Ketchup. Sorry Heinz, but I can taste the fakeness. It just isn’t like it was when I was a kid (and I’m an OLD lady!).

But recently, thanks to a twitter friend, my attention was brought to a fantastically deliciously wonderful condiment that goes by the name “Chow Chow”.

Thank you dear twitter friend, because now my taste buds have taken me back to my childhood of travelling up to the cottage, stopping by the side of the road on Highway 11 North in Ontario at Dutchie’s Restaurant, where they made the best french fries I have ever eaten in my life.  And I know, I KNOW, they had homemade ‘catsup’.  Chow Chow brings me right back to the old style counter seats & smell of the fryer.  Enough memories, let’s make some Chow Chow and can it!

What you will need:

6 cups of coarsely chopped green tomatoes*

* remove white core, & if too many or too large seeds remove as well

3 medium to large size onions, coarsely chopped

3 medium apples, coarsely chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped up

1/4 – 1/2 cup of water

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of maple syrup

2 cups of white vinegar* (5% acetic acid)

* substitutes: red wine vinegar, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice

1 tbs. of mustard powder

1/4 tsp. of allspice (I put 1/2, I love it!)

1/4 tsp. of cumin

1/4 tsp. of red chili powder (spicy, don’t put in if you don’t like it)

Just a pinch, or two, of cinnamon

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup of pickling salt

In Quebec, additions such as green & red peppers and/or cauliflower are also included.

I always say, “Make sure you play with your food!”

How to Make Chow Chow:

In non-reactive pot (enamel, stainless steel), put 1/4 cup of water at bottom and heat on high.

Toss all ingredients except maple syrup & vinegar.  Bring up to almost a boil & simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the touch of Canadiana style – maple syrup – and give it a stir.  Then mix in all the vinegar.

Let this wonderful pot of goodness simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

Depending on your choice, you can can this chunky or fine.  I prefer it done fine, so I either mush it through a sieve or I use my hand blender.

Water bath canning takes 10 minutes (but as most know, this depends on your altitude.)

Serve with french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers …

One of my absolute favourite uses is as a wonderful side sauce for Jerk’d Chicken or Pork, and it goes heavenly with West Indian Curry.

Please try my recipe & let me know how it turns out for you.

Enjoy!

Summertime Eats – Pickling Cucumbers – Easy Refrigerator Pickles

So the first harvest of my pickling cucumbers has come in.  Yay!

I decided to try growing them along with regular cukes, so that we could pickle them.  We will be canning, but later.

Now to the easy stuff.

I trellised my cucumbers this year, with old hockey nets on the ground, and it works wonderfully.

Hockey Nets for Cucumber Trellis (upper right in pic)

Giving these delicious veggies some serious support, the first cukes I’ve picked are as clean as a whistle.  Check them out:

organic pickling cucumbers

So, in order to create something easy, I’m using a friend’s quickie recipe for scrumptious refrigerator pickles.  And I cheat.  I use a microwave. (LOL)

I find about 8 medium sized cukes are good for about 1 quart of pickling liquid.

You will need:

8 pickling cucumbers (*slice lengthwise or across, your choice)

* thinner you slice, more flavour penetrates but too slim may get mushy

1/4 cup (or so, adjust!) pickling salt (I use sea salt)

1/4 cup (or so, adjust!) white sugar (try different things, like maple sugar/syrup or honey)

About 1 quart of water or so

3/4 cup white vinegar

2 cloves (or more) of garlic

1 white/red onion

Fresh Dill (or seed)

Fresh Red Chili or flake (optional)

Pickling Spices/Flavours*

* This is totally a matter of taste, however, basic pickles have dill, bay leaf, garlic, onion.

Coriander, mustard, dill seeds

Black Peppercorns (or multi-coloured!)

Bay leaves

For some yummy notes:

Cloves (minimum)

Allspice (dash)

Place your cut cukes, along with some minced garlic (I usually mince one clove and slice into quarters, the other) and onion (I cut in 3) into your refrigerator container.  I use a large glass bowl and not jar because these goodies disappear so very quickly.

Now I boil the pickling liquid in a glass bowl in my microwave.  Boiling in anything less than stainless steel, apparently is a no-no because it changes the chemical composition of the pickling liquid.  I am still learning, canning is my next mission.

So, put water, pickling flavours, vinegar, sugar and salt into a large glass microwaveable bowl and let the mixture come to a boil.  I usually let it boil for about 30 seconds longer than when it started.  Take it out and mix the liquid to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Microwave for another 30 – 60 seconds.

Pour over cucumber-garlic-onion in the glass bowl.  I do not boil the garlic or the onion in the pickling liquid as you will find the flavour turns bitter and unpleasant.  Let the hot liquid basically blanche the yummy concoction (the onion is so good too!).

Let it cool down and after it’s no longer warm, place into the refrigerator. Plastic wrap the top.

Give them about 24 hours before you eat.  But at our house, only a few hours in the frig and literally minutes until they are gone.

Hope you enjoy and please, adjust the flavourings to your own style.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.

I am thinking about making a chinese-style flavouring, using ginger, garlic & sesame oil next.

Refrigerator Pickles

Plant a Tree Together for Mothers’ Day – Consider Rose of Sharon

My Mom has passed however, I do think of her everyday.

This year, I have Rose of Sharon trees that I have people picking up from my yard – in order to plant with their mothers, for Mothers’ Day.

Instead of cut flowers, or chocolates or other stuff, planting a tree together is symbolic of a strong relationship.

Plant, root, water, prune, watch it grow … it make for a wonderful gift that not only is a beautiful thing, but also a benefit to our Earth.

Rose of Sharon are beautiful trees that can also be pruned into bushes.  They come in a wonderful variety of colours, of which I have pink, lavender and white in my yard.  They are late summer bloomers, but so worth the wait, as the flowers are large in size and vibrant in colour.

Rose of Sharon do really well in full sun, but also thrive in partial shade.  They can reach 10′ in height and branch out over 6′ around.

I really love these trees.  Super hardy and easy to transplant.

I pull these trees up from sprouts up to 2′ and run them through a hydroponic set up I have for them.  This ensures they are well rooted.

Giving your mother the gift of planting a tree together is really a positive and unique idea that can also help replenish earth.

Name Those Rescue Bunnies and an Update on Henry, Rescue Boxer Puppy

Seems I have been given the choice to help a few animals in the past week and a half.  So I have chosen to help them.

Yesterday, I also become the Momma to 2 orphaned rabbits, asides from rescuing Henry!  And these babies need names, so I’m hoping you all out there will help out … details after the Henry update.

Henry came to us last week.  He is a Boxer and has the best temperament! He is gentle and loving.

We rescued him from a crystal meth addict’s home, where he was crated (caged) in extremely cramped quarters and most likely, not given proper food and water.  We’ve had him at the vet’s office twice this past week, to get checked out.  He is 15 lbs underweight at 9 months and is suffering from both eyes being infected.  So now he’s a cone head, and he’s receiving proper medical, a proper diet and above all else, TONS OF LOVE …

Henry is a cone head for the next week or so.
He came to us 15 lbs underweight and eyes infected. He’s getting all the care he needs now!

And now to those bunnies …

Seems some Jack Rabbits were orphaned on a large energy company’s property … the mother was eaten by coyotes & so, once again, I am doing my best to rescue another set of animals.

They are approximately a week and a half old and since I work from home, plus having a big property, I’ve decided to help them out for the next few weeks until they are a bit bigger and strong enough to be let go again.

Jack Rabbits or Hares, are not domesticated.  These creatures tend to live singular lives, except when mating season happens.  They do not fare well in captivity, however, when orphaned, can be successfully cared back to health and strong growth.

I’m feeding them baby formula with an eye dropper, along with fresh purple clover, grass, apples & carrots.

AND THEY NEED NAMES!!!!  Will you help out?

Please leave names in the comments section.

My 8 year old is going to pick out the best ones for these beautiful little creatures.

We Need Names!!!
Please Help Us!