I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. - Frank Lloyd Wright

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Fruit Bites

Sometimes I like a small sweet treat in the middle of the afternoon.  Instead of cookies or candy I often turn to dried fruit.  Fruit Bites combine a number of popular dried fruits with nuts and seeds to make a rolled treat. For a change in the recipe substitute sesame seeds for sunflower seeds.

IngredientsFruit Bites

1 cup dried dates

1/2 cups cashews

1/2 cups dried apricots

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Put dates. cashews, apricots and oats in a food processor with the mixing blades.  Mix on high speed until chunks are combined and  the batter is of thick consistency.  Batter will be sticky.

Remove from food processor and roll in a log in parchment.  Chill for at least an hour.

Remove from parchment and cut in slices.  Roll slices in sunflower seeds to coat.

For another afternoon treat try Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters

English Spice Cookies

I rediscovered my mother’s cookbook this week.  It’s amazing what memories a few words on paper can bring back.  The recipes lovingly copied in both my mother’s and my grandmother’s handwriting remind me of special occasions.  My mom used to open the book to mix and bake her special recipes on a birthday, holiday or when one of us was feeling blue.

English Spice Cookies is a recipe originating from my English grandmother.  Nana liked her sweets and we could always find cookies of some kind on her table. The recipe has a hint of spice and dried fruits to sweeten the batter.  For a change try using dried blueberries or dried cranberries instead of dates.

IngredientsEnglish Spice Cookies

1/3 cup butter

1 scant cup of granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisings

1/2 cup finely chopped dates

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 to 2 cups flour to make a firm dough

2 tbsp milk

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Strawberry Shortcake

Where I live strawberries are usually fresh in June.  It’s also the month of my mother’s birthday so we often have shortcake instead of birthday cake to celebrate. 

This shortcake recipe is sweet, light and fluffy yet it is still firm enough to take on a picnic.

IngredientsStrawberry Shortcake

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp baking powder

2 cups milk + 2 tsp vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening

In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

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Helpful Hints – Plants

Helpful Hints - PlantsOne of my hobbies is growing plants and now that it’s almost growing season I’ve listed a few helpful hints on all things plants.

  • Don’t put clay pots on furniture. The clay is porous and the water will seep through and ruin your table’s finish.
  • To water clay potted plants while you are on holidays place a brick in the bath tube and fill with water to the top of the brick. The water will seep through the drainage hole in the clay plot and water your plants.
  • Styrofoam packing chips are good substitutes for rocks placed in the drainage layer at the bottom of flower pots.
  • Save empty egg cartons to plant your spring seeds in. The cardboard containers can be planted directly outside in the soil.
  • Plant banana skins at the base of roses to provide vital nutrients for the plant.
  • Crush egg shells and scatter around the base of roses to deter bugs.
  • Plant dill near tomatoes to lure caterpillars away from the plants.
  • Vinegar will destroy grass in driveway and sidewalk cracks.
  • Cut flowers from the garden in late evening or early morning to make them last longer.
  • Add leftover tea water to plants that require acidic soil weekly.
  • Take egg shells and place in a container filled with water.  Let sit for a couple of weeks, strain and then feed your plants.
  • Spider plants act as household air cleaners.
  • White azaleas last longer than the other coloured azaleas
  • Freeze fresh herbs in a bit of olive oil in ice cube trays.  Pop a cube out to flavor soups and stews.
  • Grow house plants from avocado pits, orange pits and pineapple tops.
  • When re-potting plants use a coffee filter to prevent soil seeping out of the bottom of the pot.

A variety of Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread has always been a favourite cookie in my household.  On holidays we used to make a platter of different types of the sweet treat.  Below I’ve included some cookie recipes that were always hits on our holiday platter.

Enjoy!

Recipes are ordered from left to right.

Chocolate Chip Brown Sugar Shortbread

1/2 cup brown sugarA variety of shortbread

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips.

See preparation method below.

Continue reading “A variety of Shortbread Cookies”

Citrus Nut Clusters

Citrus Nut clusters are great for a mid-morning pick me up.  If you find the recipe too tart then just add another tablespoon or so of honey or maple syrup.

IngredientsCitrus Nut Clusters

1 cup cashews

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup almonds

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup lime juice

3 tbsp maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup coconut to roll bites in

Add all ingredients to a food processor omitting the second amount of coconut.  Mix until a thick paste forms.  Do not over mix.

Roll paste into small bites and roll in second amount of coconut.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.

This recipe makes 30 small clusters.

For a refreshing pairing try serving this recipe with Peach Lemonade.

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