Archives for April 2011

Interview with a 30-Day Vegan

She’s an author, mother, homeschooler, world-traveler, blogger — and now Jamie Martin can add ‘vegan’ to her resume. She just wrapped a 30-day stretch on a strict vegan diet.

We know Jamie as the editor of our sister site, Simple Homeschool, as well as the voice behind Steady Mom. I knew Jamie was fearless when it comes to intentional mothering and creative writing, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear she was going vegan for a full month.

Definition of VEGAN

vē-gən: A strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather).

~ From

I was curious about Jamie’s temporary switch to veganism, so I asked her a few questions and she graciously shared her experience with us. Thanks Jamie!

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Eccles Cakes for the Royal Wedding

We’ve been keeping so busy with Easter, Earth Day, building a chicken coop, and the arrival of spring to the back yard, that I hadn’t given much thought to the impending royal wedding.

Then last Saturday, over at my in-laws, my sister and I browsed a small stack of magazines dedicated to Will, Kate and big event. The ring! The story! The romance! I fell hard for the whole package.

The next day I bookmarked The Website, followed the Twitter account and even took a peak at the You Tube channel.

It’s pretty magical, you have to admit. A prince, struck with tragedy so young, forever in the public eye, now marrying for love.

My mother married a British man nearly 40 years ago, my dear dad. I was delighted when she told me today that she was making her wedding cake again – a traditional English fruitcake- in honour of the royal wedding. She was also planning to rise at 3 am, go over to her sisters (my parents don’t have TV) and watch the whole shebang. Mom, you are so cool.

Of course I’ve done a bit of baking of my own. Buttermik Scones are prepared for tomorrow’s breakfast and wedding viewing. Although I’ll be playing catch up online. No 3 am wake up for this mama.

If you’re looking for an accompaniment to your tea tomorrow, may I suggest Eccles Cakes? Imagine a layer of black currants and sugar pressed between two sheets of puff pastry and baked to a crisp, caramelized delicious morsel. They’ve been a favorite of mine forever. That British background working its influence on my palate, I guess.

This particular interpretation of a classic British tea-time treat is more of a Canadian version of the original tea cakes of Eccles, England. With only three ingredients it is fast to make and you can easily whip up a batch for afternoon tea. So put the kettle on.

Eccles Cakes


  • 1 ½ lbs puff pastry, chilled
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup currants

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Plump currants in hot water 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

Roll chilled dough in a floured surface in to a rectangle 3/16 inch thick. Put aside for a moment while removing all dusting flour. Sprinkle the work surface generously with sugar and continue rolling dough to 1/8 inch thickness.

Trim the piece in to a precise rectangle. Cover half the dough solidly with currants in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Fold the remaining half of the dough over the top of the currants.

Gently press a rolling pin over the entire surface until the black currants show through the sheet of thin dough. The result is a nice speckled appearance.

With a knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough into 2-inch squares and place 1-2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Place in the refrigerator to relax the dough for 25 minutes while the oven heats.

Reheat oven to 375F.

Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven. When the bottoms have caramelized and are light brown, carefully turn the cakes over and finish baking. ( I forgot to do this step, so my tops are less caramelized.)

Place cakes on rack to cool. Enjoy!

Ed note: excerpts and photos from this post were previously published in October, 2007.

WW: Earth Day ’11 Picnic for the Planet

The rain/hail let up last week just enough for us to celebrate Earth Day with a picnic and campfire on Friday. I teamed up with friends at The Nature Conservancy to promote their Picnic for the Planet. It was a great event!

I was to busy eating pasta salad and grilled chicken and chasing kids to pick up the camera, but here are a few shots Danny and I managed to get between the two of us.

Here’s to the coming spring and many more picnic days ahead.

How to Make Soup From Scratch

Do you love soup?  I sure do. It’s a delicious and simple meal that can be tailored to any season. It contains a wide range of flavors and highlights vegetables in season.

Most often, when people want to make soup, they go look for a recipe.  “Do you want chicken noodle…vegetable beef…or clam chowder?”  But you don’t really need a recipe to make a great soup.  Even less experienced cooks can learn how to make soup at home; it’s very simple.

The next time you want to make soup, try this method.  You’ll be able to use whatever you have on hand (no last-minute trips to the store for one ingredient!) and you just might love the result.

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Eat Well, Spend Less Round-up and Giveaway!

This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Lynda, our winner of the Kroger card! A big thank you to all who entered.

Last week in our Eat Well, Spend Less series, nine of us bloggers shared a close look at where shopped for groceries and how we made things work for our particular area of the continent. Many things such as budget, proximity to markets, time and location all factored into our decisions and it was very interesting to read about the various approaches to this everyday task.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of you enjoyed our virtual shopping trip and had lots of fun showing you my local haunts in my post, Simple Bites Goes Shopping. I do feel fortunate to have such fantastic grocery shopping resources so close to where I live.

In this post, I’ll give a quick recap of Eat Well, Spend Less Part 3: Making the Most of Where You Live. I encourage you to visit the post of the blogger closest to your area, as they give shopping tips specifically for their region.

Also, we’ve got a great giveaway for you, so don’t go anywhere before you comment for your chance to win. [Read more…]