Family Centered Kitchen

Snow’s Coming

After that early snowstorm in late October, we thought we were in for a very snowy autumn.  Just two days ago, the children were playing outdoors with only wooly jumpers, and asking for a picnic lunch.  In December.

But the snow is coming.  We’re forecast to get some snow tomorrow morning, then again perhaps over the weekend.  We’ve been grateful for the stay, but are looking forward to seasonal weather.  There are hills to sled on at the farm, and I need a little something to help get me into the anticipatory spirit of Advent.

The snowy winter helps also to turn my mind to seeds, and farm babies.  We’ve got two bred Shetland ewes coming to the farm on Saturday afternoon, and we’re working on having our six eligible Oberhasli (milkers and yearlings) bred by two handsome boys at a friend’s farm.  And I’ll be planning for older egg layers, chicks, poults, and goslings for the coming season.  The three barrows have an appointment with the knackerman next month, and the girls will be bred for spring piglets.

The house is nearing the end of restorations, and I am looking forward to sitting in the bay window of our living room, with a piece of handwork, watching the children play in the snow, while something comforting bubbles on the stove.

Geese paddling in the water alongside the barn after a mid-autumn snow.


Hens in the yard, as the snow had begun to melt away.


Scratching among the boughs of the 40-foot evergreen that was felled in late summer.

There are many who would wish away winter.  I say, “let it snow”.

Butternut Squash Bisque with a drizzle of homemade cranberry sauce.


Butternut Squash Bisque

2 butternut squash, halved and cleaned of seeds and fibres

1 medium onion, chopped

butter or oil

1 qt. chicken stock

1 c. heavy cream (raw if you can get it!)

cinnamon, coriander, and ginger (ground) to taste

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400.  Place squash halves on a baking sheet, cut side down and roast for 1 hour, until quite soft and caramelized.  Set aside to cool.  In a stockpot, sauté onions in butter (or oil if you prefer) at medium heat for about 10 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add spices and cook a further 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the spices.  Add chicken stock and heat through.  Scoop flesh from the squash and add to the pot.  Remove soup from heat and purée using an immersion blender, food processor, or standard blender.  Return soup to the pot and add cream.  Gently heat through and serve with a dark green salad and homemade bread.  We like to drizzle on freshly made cranberry sauce, but a dollop of sour cream would do nicely also.

Giving Thanks

For the many blessings we enjoy.  We hope that your Thanksgiving was filled with loveliness and good things, too.

Turkey and all the trimmings


Pies a-plenty


Nibble, nibble little mouse... Apparently too tasty to resist.


A simple centrepiece.

Meatless Table for Friday

I get bored of the same meals over and over.  Even when it’s a favourite.  I needed a new macaroni cheese recipe.  Jack and I were schlepping around the grocery when I spied packages of fresh gnocchi.

Brilliant!  That’ll fill the bill after a hard day of farm work!

Hard-working Fridays are difficult for observant Catholic families.  Lifting bales, shoveling muck, carrying water buckets… it all builds up a mighty appetite.  And what is wanted is good stick-to-the-ribs food.  Especially on a gray autumn day.  Meat and potatoes are often the on the menu, but not on Friday.

This recipe was very satisfactory.  I hope you’ll enjoy.

Gnocchi and Cheese Casserole

  • 4 lb. fresh gnocchi
  • 1 lb. sharp cheddar, shredded and divided (I use white, but you can use yellow for more colour)
  • 1 lb. Monterey Jack, shredded and divided
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 sm. onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 c. milk, warmed
  • paprika to taste (optional)

Sauté onion and garlic in butter in a skillet over medium heat, until onions are translucent.  Combine flour and spices, add to butter and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour milk into flour mixture, stirring constantly.  Mixture will thicken.  Add half of the cheddar and Monterey Jack and all of the cream cheese.  Stir until completely melted.  In a very large mixing bowl, combine prepared gnocchi and cheese sauce.  Pour into a large glass casserole (9″x13″), top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  *Place a baking sheet in the lower rack to catch any cheese sauce that overflows.

This recipe serves our family of 10 for Friday dinner, with a few leftovers.  Serve with steamed, buttered Brussels sprouts with nutmeg or lemon, and baked applesauce.  This dish would also be lovely with the addition of home-baked ham – either on the side or cut up and incorporated into the casserole.  Chicken, turkey, sausage, or corned beef could also work.

Sophie serving herself some baked applesauce. Sesame semolina bread in the background.


Holy Week:: Selah

Holy Week is drawing to a close.  I’m in two minds about it.  It’s a shame to see my favourite week of the year speed by.  On the other hand, the crescendo of the Resurrection is so compelling, so exhilarating.

I was worried that this week would be full of stumbling blocks for our family, we had scheduled every possible thing to co-incide.  But we were wise and allowed things to fall away.  We slowed our pace and worked together to complete tasks, and enjoyed the journey through the days.  Yesterday was spent preparing the krashanky while James and Joséphine napped.



William, Louis, and Sophie begin peeling onions


… and Carrie


Happily working together.


There’s still time to make your own.  Here’s how::


Collect the peels of about 10 lb. of yellow onions into a bowl:



Place them in a pot. Ours has a handy basket insert, but you don’t need to have one of those.

Children (and grown-ups) love the crunch of the dry skins…


…and helping in the kitchen.


Add 8 c. water to the pot:


and 1/4c. white vinegar


Bring to the boil, cover, and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.


You’ll need 12-18 clean, white eggs which have been left to come up to room temperature.


Place them into a stainless steel pot in a single layer.


Strain and cool your dye to room temperature. Then pour it in over your eggs.


Make sure your eggs are completely covered. Add more cool water, if needed. Bring to the boil again and allow to simmer 12-15 minutes.


If you haven’t achieved the colour you want after 15 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to sit until you’re happy with them.


When the eggs are completely cooled, rub them with olive oil and a soft cloth or paper towels.


Pack them up nice and safe in their carton to bring to church on Holy Saturday so that they can be blessed.


We’ll be bringing our krashanky to our new parish tomorrow morning for blessing, along with Father David’s holy water bottles for Vigil.  They’ll be eaten for breakfast before heading out to the 11:30 Easter Sunday Mass, where Brian will serve.  Later in the afternoon, we will return once more to church – this time to our old parish, St. Joseph’s, where William will serve on the altar for the first time!

And somewhere in there, we’ll make time to sit down to dinner together, and reflect on the myriad graces that come to us through Christ, and His Church.  The graces we celebrate this Holy Weekend and throughout the year.

Wishing you and your family a blessed Eastertide!


Holy Week, Open the Gates!

The King of Glory comes, the nation rejoices.  Open the gates before Him, lift up your voices!

Holy Week has come.  It is the most beautiful, most exhausting week of our year.

Somehow, we’ve managed to schedule inspectors and appointments and lessons for this week in addition to all of the normal preparations.   There are still new clothes and shoes to be bought, festal foods to procure, cooking and baking to be done, holy water bottles to be filled, and traditional Holy Week cleaning to be done.   Certainly some things will, and must, fall away because no one can do all that we have scheduled.  I am forgiving myself in advance.

Holy Week home-keeping will be truncated to allow enough time for other important activities.  But I don’t want to give it up altogether because it is an important part of the fabric of the celebration in our home, which is, after all, a domestic church.  And we want to joyfully open the gates before Him and welcome Him into our home.

The physical cleaning of the home mirrors the final sweeping out of our souls in preparation to receive Him on Easter morning.  We women are blessed to have such a tangible reality to illustrate the mystical.  I offer you my prayerful Holy Week cleaning schedule, with a wish that your heart and home be blessed by the glorious presence of our Saviour and Brother today and always.

Monday: Windows

Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings. Psalm 119:18

  • remove curtains and wash
  • vacuum and dust sashes, sills, and trim
  • wash window glass inside and out
  • tighten curtain rod screws if needed
  • replace shades if needed
  • tighten handles, locks, refresh caulking if needed


Tuesday:  Walls

May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces. Psalm 122:7

  • remove artwork and photographs, dust
  • sweep/vacuum dust and cobwebs from corners and ceiling
  • clean marks from walls
  • fill holes with patching compound, touch up paint
  • replace picture hangers if necessary


Wednesday: Doors

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter. Psalm 24:7

  • scrub doors inside and out
  • tighten screws on hinges and other fixtures
  • check locks and jambs
  • dust around trim
  • vacuum sill


Thursday: Kitchen

Spread for me a banquet of praise, serve High God a feast of kept promises Psalm 50:14

  • clean oven and scrub cooktop
  • empty fridge and freezer, scrub
  • sort and re-organize shelves/cupboards
  • clean down small appliances, clean out coffee pot


Friday: Floors

I bow low toward your holy temple; I praise your name for your fidelity and love. For you have exalted over all your name and your promise. Psalm 138:2

  • Vacuum off furniture and under cushions, wash slipcovers
  • Move furniture and vacuum, mop, polish
  • Vacuum and remove throw rugs, hang outside to air
  • Dust and wipe down heat runs and baseboards


I am praying that I will find the quiet in my soul to absorb the richness of the liturgical celebrations.  They are a font of grace.  And they only come this time of year.  Come Easter morning, we will sing:

He conquered sin and death; he truly has risen!  And He will share with us His heavenly vision.

Blessed Holy Week, dear friends.  And a joyous Easter!

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