Blog Archives

Onion Harvest

So my onions came in this last week or so and after slicing and dicing them for the grill, the skillet, the freezer and the salad, I had to come up with something new.  You gardeners out there know what I’m talking about–zealous in your green thumb, you think “the more the merrier” and grow a hundred sweet onions with only the thought of Nirvana in mind.  Patiently you tend and care for these sweet babies until — FINALLY — six months later, they’re ready! 

Talk about excitement.  Well life around the Venetta Farm is in full swing and not only does that mean harvest, it means kitchen duty.  Not one for canning onions or eating them raw, I like to bake mine.  Saute them, combine them with butter and heat until they caramelize to perfection.  This recipe is one of my favorites for doing exactly that and with the addition of cheese?

Life doesn’t get any better.  Taken from the magazine, Cuisine at home, this dish is easy to make and worth every minute.  If you like French Onion Soup, you’re going to LOVE this dish. 

Onions au Gratin

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 cups sliced sweet onions

1/2 cup dry sherry or chicken broth (I used sherry)

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (I skipped these)

Preheat oven to 400°F

Melt butter in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, stirring until slightly softened to make room in the pan (I don’t know what this means—I just sautéed the correct amount of onions); cover and cook until completely softened, 10 minutes.

Add sherry, thyme, and bay leaves; increase heat to medium-high.  Sauté, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and onions are browning, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes (mine may have been 20 minutes, but caramelizing onions is a fairly forgiving process).

Combine cheeses, then stir 1/2 cup of cheese mixture into onion mixture.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then sprinkle with olives.  Let stand to cool slightly before serving.

Makes 4 servings.   Total time: approx. 50 minutes.

Organization 101

Ever tried to organize a large group of people for an event or outing?  Like hunting for Easter eggs (or hiding them!), it can be a lot of work.  The kids searched and searched and still we have 3 missing!  But I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere this week—falling out of trees, found via the ant trail leading to their sweet hidden treasure.  Good news is they’re all plastic, so no odorous mess to deal with after the fact!

But today begins my Authors in Bloom Spring Blog Hop which has been quite a lesson in organization for me.  It’s an exciting venture and one that required lots of communication.  Now I’ve organized Girl Scouts and cookie sales, kids and garden lessons but authors?  This is my first time and I’m happy to report—all is well!  Thanks in large part to participant enthusiasm and my oh-so-adored excel program.  I love it!  It’s definitely my secret weapon when it comes to planning—anything from blog tours to blog hops, cookie sales to garden beds—excel is my go-to program.

Especially because it allows me to color coordinate people, cookie flavors, paid/unpaid, signed in/signed out…  Well, you get the picture.   Better yet, it adds and subtracts for me which comes in handy with most endeavors I find myself wrapped up in!  And when you have great organization skills, computer tools or fabulous virtual assistance (thank you, Tiffany!), the final product can be downright satisfying.  Now mind you, we have 10 days to go for this blog hop filled with gardening tips and recipes, but I have high hopes for a wonderful outcome.

How could I not with such a great start?  How about you?  What’s your secret to organizational success?  And if you’re interested in some gardening tips or new recipes, be sure to join me this week!  Along with tons of great prizes to be had along the way…

Pecan Tarts

Following in Dianne’s awesome culinary footsteps…I thought I’d share what I will be making tomorrow night.  My mother’s pecan tarts.  I do not have a picture yet, but once I do, I’ll put this in the recipe tab.

Each year, my daughter and I go through my mother’s old recipe box that I confiscated (stole) after she passed away. 🙂   We decide what we will attempt that season, out of her handwritten recipes.

So here you go, exactly how my mother wrote it…and fair warning…they are addictive.

Pecan Tarts

1) 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 1/4c butter (stick)
2 1/2c flour

Blend softened cheese and butter.  Stir in flour.  Chill for 1 hour.  Shape into 1″ balls.  Place in ungreased muffin cups, and press dough to bottom and sides.

Make filling:
3 eggs
2c brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp soft butter (stick)
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1  2/3c chopped pecans
Dash of salt

Beat together till smooth, all except pecans.  Divide half the pecans among cups, lining the bottoms, add the filling.  Top with the rest of pecans.

Bake at 325 degrees, 28 mins. Cool then remove.


Poppycock: A Family Favourite Recipe

This week marks the second anniversary of my Dad’s passing so I’ve been thinking about him a lot. And thoughts of Dad always lead me to memories of his sweet tooth, which he kindly passed down to his kids. Inspired by Myndi Shafer’s recent blog, and in honour of my Dad’s memory, I’d like to share with you my recipe for Poppycock, which I used to give to him every Christmas.

Sheila’s Poppycock Recipe

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup whole un-blanched almonds

8 cups popped popcorn

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup margarine

1/2 cup golden corn syrup

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spread pecans and almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast lightly. In a very large unbuttered bowl, mix nuts and popcorn together.

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and cream of tartar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water, approximately four minutes. Note: if you like your poppycock less chewy, then cook until the mixture forms a hard ball when dropped into cold water, approximately five minutes.

Remove from stove and stir in the soda and vanilla. Be careful because the addition of the soda makes the mixture foam up.

Pour over the popcorn and nut mix. With a wooden spoon, stir until evenly coated. Leave in bowl until the poppycock is partially cooled but make sure you stir it once in a while to keep the mixture from forming into one hard ball.

When the popcorn and nuts have cooled some, dump it on to the countertop or on large cookie sheets and continue to stir occasionally until fully cooled. I usually leave it out overnight and every time I walk by, I stir it to break it apart. Someone will no doubt sneak a piece or two but that’s okay because it’s easy to make a second batch.

This makes a wonderful Christmas gift. I like to put it into jars and tins to give to family and friends. Enjoy!

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