Author Archives: Vibrant Weekly

About Vibrant Weekly

I am a holistic interior designer living in Ontario, Canada

The miracle of green smoothies

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I had been drinking Greens+ as a morning smoothie for a couple of years now, but I have only started formulating my own, from real greens, since this summer. What got me started was my daughters’ bumper crop of Swiss chard (which is still going strong). I purchased an inexpensive blender and I started using the fresh leaves along with other super foods to create a protein-rich, anti-oxidant rich and dare I say it: delicious drink.
I was always afraid of the bitter taste of fresh greens and couldn’t imagine them concentrated into a morning drink. Bleh!
Well, I’m singing a different tune now. I absolutely adore my green smoothie!
The great thing about making your own smoothie is that you can modify it to whatever you like and your body needs. For instance, right now in my life I am in need of hormone balancing. There is no better super food than Maca for this, in my opinion. It has a pleasant malted milkshake flavour.
On top of that I use ground flaxseed, chia seeds and hemp protein, which is a marvellous source of both protein and essential fatty acids, as well as being vegan (for those of you out there who are).

Some other yummy and healthy additions are cinnamon, cocoa, and even turmeric, if you don’t mind a slight curry flavour.
If you’ve never tried having a green smoothie before, I urge you to give it a try. Your body will love you for it!

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Harvest Fruit Crumble Cake

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Mmmmm!!! Babcia’s Fruit Crumble Cake – the best!

My Mom made this cake with any fruit she had around the house, including dried fruit such as cranberries, prunes and apricots but I think everyone’s favourite was plum cake made with blue plums. They’re not usually great for eating, but when baked into a cake such as this one, they are elevated to Amazing Taste status!

I have used spelt flour and brown sugar, because that’s what I had in the house, but you can use all purpose flour and any sugar just as easily.

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In a medium bowl whisk together 2 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar (here I have used brown sugar)

 

 

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add 2 Tablespoons of sour cream and blend in

 

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add a teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract and blend in

 

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add 1/2 cup of oil and whisk in

 

 

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In a large bowl sift together 2 cups of flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt

 

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Pour wet ingredients over dry and blend in lightly, until just combined20130917-161447.jpg

 

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spread evenly on bottom of 8″ square, parchment lined baking pan

 

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push sliced fruit deeply into batter. It’s better to go heavy on the fruit.

 

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for the crumble, mix 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Combine with fingers

 

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and sprinkle rough chunks over the prepared fruit and cake batter

 

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Bake in a 325 degree oven for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the centre (of the batter) comes out clean

 

Non-Stick Pan

A disclaimer:
I am in no way compensated by any company, nor do I get products for free. I just want to pass along my experience with trying products that are healthier for you and/or for the environment.
This week I tried out the Paderno Eco Pan, which is marketed as a ceramic base non-stick frying pan.
As you probably already know, the old school Teflon non-stick pans are really quite bad for you as if you get even tiny scratches on the surface of the pan, bits of Teflon get into your food. Teflon does not get digested and most of us have a store of this man-made substance in our bodies. One of the ingredients of Teflon is likely a carcinogen so avoidance is prudent. Here’s a link to a brief article about this.
I love non-stick pans, so several years ago I invested hundreds of dollars into an Anolon pan which was supposed to be very scratch resistant and last a lifetime. Hah!
As you can see from the picture it is really scratched up despite my exclusive use of bamboo or silicone cooking implements. It makes me mad that it now has to go into our already overful landfills. I am really hoping that this Paderno pan lives up to its promises, although I highly doubt the 25-year warranty. For a trial recipe I made sautéed mushrooms and onions. Normally I would use a bit of fat, oil or butter, but for experimental purposes here, I have used none.
Sure enough, the pan did not stick whatsoever, but allowed the caramelisation of the mushrooms to occur.
So far, I love it! Will report back if I have any problems with it.

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my terribly scratched $200 Anolon pan. Ready for the landfill, sadly!

 

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my new $35 Paderno eco pan. (on sale at Home Hardware)

 

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shiny new pan!

 

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I’m going to saute some mushroom without using any fat

 

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I like to just wipe them clean with a paper towel, but you can wash them if you like

 

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slice them and put them into the pan over medium heat

 

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the water will start coming out of them

 

 

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add half a finely minced onion: slice into very thin strips from root to stem, leaving 1/4″ of stem end unsliced to hold it together.

 

 

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then slice crosswise and you will get a fine mince

 

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but the strips have to be very thin, about 1/16″, so use a sharp knife

 

 

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add to the mushrooms in the pan and continue cooking about another 5 minutes. You should start getting some deep caramelisation.

 

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deglaze the pan with 1 teaspoon vodka (optional, but intensifies the mushroom-ey flavour)

 

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Doesn’t stick at all! Add salt and pepper as desired.

 

 

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make sure to re-use the mushroom container – as a small paint container for instance

 

Up cycling at its best

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Both for renovating our small, cute cottage (aka: Green Acres), as well as for our new house build, the Habitat for Humanity Restores have been our first stop, both for sourcing out items that we need as well as for recycling items we no longer need. Many communities have these wonderful stores, and if you haven’t been to one yet you’re definitely missing out. Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 as a way to give people a hand up in providing them with affordable housing, not a hand-out. To this day they have facilitated housing for thousands of families all over the world. I and my family have been very blessed indeed to be able to take basic needs such as a roof over our heads for granted, but this is not the reality for many, so I love supporting this charity in any way I can.
The Restores obtain items from homeowners, renovators, liquidators, manufacturers, as well as big box stores such as Home Depot. You can often find brand new or nearly new items there for a fraction of the cost. Another bonus is that you pay no tax at all on any of the items, even the brand new ones.
One of my favourite Restores is in Bracebridge. It is giganormous, plus it’s right next to Muskoka Brewery, a tiny craft brewery where you can sample before you buy. Yum!
For our next project at Green Acres we desperately needed to renovate the bathroom, which had previously been renovated, but in such a shoddy fashion that (believe it or not), they had sort of plumbed in a marine toilet instead of a proper one, and had plumbed in the vanity without a P-trap. Needless to say, the smell was horrible, which is likely why the place was on the market so long. We purchased a Hennessy and Hinchcliffe ultra high efficiency toilet, (which I would highly recommend if you need a new toilet as it only uses 3 litres per flush), and we found a cute vanity at ReStore, as well as a slightly used faucet.
Tune in next week for the “Before and Afters”!

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Whether you’re looking for a light fixture,

 

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furniture to refinish with milk paint,

 

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a brand new window or door for a cottage or shed,

 

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a lavatory basin to replace a cracked one,

 

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a “new” kitchen that you could re-paint after it’s installed,

 

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or even a brand new vanity. Look at that price! And no tax!

 

Cottage Bathroom

So…..here’s the new and improved cottage bathroom along with the before shots (except for the marine toilet – no need for horror in my blogposts!)
As mentioned last week, we decided to go with an ultra high efficiency toilet. In my opinion this one by Hennessy & Hinchcliffe is fabulous. I find it truly astonishing that old school toilets can use up to 3 gallons of water per flush, when this one does a great job using just .8 gallons or 3 litres per flush. In these days of water consumption awareness you might want to think about switching out your old ones. Many municipalities offer financial incentives to do so.
We purchased a new vanity from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore¬†for an astonishing $89 and a brand new faucet for $5 – no tax! A carrera marble-look quartz vanity top from Home Depot at $139 complete the new vanity. The main reason for switching out the vanities was that the existing one was very short at 28.5″, whereas the new one is 34.5″ high, making it a lot more comfortable to use. An added benefit is that we gained extra space in the bathroom because the new vanity is much narrower – enough to have a full-size drying rack – very important in a cottage because with all the guests you get inundated with towels, and this is a great way to keep them all dry.
I made extremely simple window coverings to allow privacy by just hemming and making a top pocket and hemming all around in a horizontally striped sheer fabric which I found at Fabricland. Total cost: $4.00 for both curtains (the curtain rods were already in the cottage – on different windows)
The position of the vanity (i.e. the plumbing) meant that it was mounted directly below the window, making the mounting of a mirror problematic. I solved this by mounting the mirror securely on screws which went into the window sill. The mirror was completely plain so I dressed it up a bit by hot-gluing a row of metallic birds to the bottom of it.
A good scrubbing and re-caulking of the shower as well as a new shower curtain and water efficient shower head make this once horrible bathroom a pleasure to use!
(Yes! That is an ironing board reflected in the mirror. Can’t sew without ironing!)

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Bathroom vanity “before”. Yes, we have exposed plumbing. It is a cottage after all.

 

 

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And the “After” I will never take a flushing toilet for granted again!

 

Room for an extendable drying rack – essential in a cottage with many guests, many towels!

 

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A new shower curtain and window curtain completes the look

 

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Make sure you check out Habitat for Humanity Restore when sourcing new items for your home or cottage!

 

Peach upside-down cake

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yummy peach upside down cake with caramelized honey

 

Don’t you just love Ontario peaches? Fragrant, bursting with juicy flavour, and available right now!
If you have overbought (like I sometimes do) and are looking for something to make with fresh peaches, why not try a peach upside-down cake? This version uses only honey as a sweetener, not sugar. There’s something about the combination of caramelised honey and peaches that I find irresistible. This particular cake is made with spelt flour, which means it’s best eaten right away as it will really toughen up if left for a few days. You can just as easily use all purpose flour if you like.

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Ontario peaches just bursting with flavour

 

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pour 1/3 cup of melted butter over bottom of parchment lined 8″ cake pan

 

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add 1/2 cup of liquid honey

 

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mix and spread evenly over bottom of pan

 

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lay the sliced peaches over the honey/butter combination

 

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pour 1/2 cup of honey into a mixing bowl

 

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add 2 eggs

 

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add 1/3 cup of oil

 

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add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix everything very well

 

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in a small bowl measure out 1 1/2 cups of flour (spelt or all purpose)

 

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add 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

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add 1 teaspoon of baking soda

 

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and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

 

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add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 

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mix dry ingredients well and measure out 1/3 cup sour cream

 

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add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with the sour cream

 

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pour batter over prepared peaches in pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes

 

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until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean

 

Strawberry Picking in August? Yes!

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Well I bet you’ve never seen this before? I know I haven’t. Farmer Larry Pegg of Homestead Orchards in Georgina saw this type of hydroponic strawberry set-up in England and decided to try it 3 years ago. This year is his first viable crop and it’s a bumper one. As with anything brand new there are bound to be hiccups and this year it was an earwig infestation. Farmer Larry devised a very creative pesticide-free method of dealing with the pesky bugs – tuna tins with a little of the tuna left in the bottom and covered with a half inch of oil. The earwigs fall in and can’t get out!
The type of strawberry planted in these greenhouses is an everbearing strawberry, which means we’ll be able to pick strawberries right through to November. They are very easy to pick as they hang at waist level. You just have to be very careful and use a pair of snippers (provided). The taste is astonishing. Probably the most flavourful strawberry I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten quite a few!
If you’re in Georgina you must give them a try, as well as their u-pick apples which start in September. (note to Islanders – Homestead Orchards is off Woodbine just 5 km East on Old Homestead – worth the detour!)

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you have to snip the strawberries carefully from the stem

 

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and in no time flat you have 2 quarts of super delicious berries

 

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