Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Tree Cutting

We cut down our very own Christmas tree this year with Owen. It was loads of fun and I think more people should ditch the plastic and go for the green! The smell in the house is wonderful and screams Christmas when you walk in. The fake tree phenomenon has gotten out of hand and is terrible. With the senior citizens, I get the fake tree thing, but the rest of us should be going green with our Christmas trees. The trees are great for the environment; providing clean fresh are for us for 10 years while they grow, then we cut them down we plant new ones... how wonderful! Its a great tradition to start with children and a great way to help local farmers and the environment all at the same time.

2007 Prince Pirate: Merlot/Cab Franc

Aaron and I had tried the 2006 of this wine from the Opimian Society and loved it. We kept the name and purchased a case the following year, being 2007. The 2007 we received and tried a bottle and it is divine.
The nose is of dark fruits and fresh cut grass with a hint of wood and leather, possibly some cinnamon or nutmeg.
The taste is light and smooth with very mild tannins. It has a lush and jammy mouth feel. There is a wonderful explosion of fruit on the finish.
This wine can be drank with almost anything or nothing. I would avoid any peppery meals and overly sweet desserts since they would overpower the wine, but just about anything else would be a great pairing.
We rated the wine a 4.5/5 stars!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Priscutto wrapped Figs and goat cheese.

This Christmas we got together with some family and were in charge of bringing an appetizer. We did some digging and found a great recipe for Priscutto wrapped figs and goat cheese with a balsamic glaze. OMG, were they delicious. The recipe was very simple.

For the Balsamic Glaze:
50/50 sugar and balsamic vinegar (about 1/2c each) cooked down until smooth and sticky. (just thick enough to be sticky and not too drippy)

For the Stuffed Figs:
Rinse fresh figs. Cut slit in fig and stuff with 1/2 tsp or so of goat cheese. Then wrap stuffed figs with one slice of Priscutto each. Bake in a 350 degree oven until edges of Priscutto is crispy, approx. 10-15 minutes.

Serve with sauce for dipping or pour sauce over each fig.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter is here.

So we obviously haven't done anything outside in the gardens since there is snow on the ground but we do plan on purchasing some seeds to begin our seedlings in the basement. I did some research and think we will be ordering seeds from dominion seed house. They are a Canadian company and are tried and true since 1928. I know we are going to be starting planting once the seeds arrive and plan on ordering them within the next week or so. Since it is our first year we aren't wanted to do anything too crazy so I think we will be starting with some tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, other greens and some onions. Depending on space (if we get the side garden ready in the early spring) we would like to also have broccoli, asparagus, beets, carrots, potatoes and squash. Also, dare I even mention, if we get the garden up against the house ready in time (doubtful) we could even grow some fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, watermelons and other melons.
There will of course be the herb garden which we aren't sure where to put this year since Owen is taking over its old spot for some plants of his own to take care of (some fast growing veg/herbs).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flower garden: Fall cleanup

Aaron and I worked outside a bit this weekend since the whether was beautiful! We swept the back patio and cleaned up the garden around the pool. Aaron cut back all the grasses and I pruned the hedges. I leave most small plants (perennials such as a hosta or astilbe) to use the dead matter as a shelter for new growth in the spring. It isn't until the new plant looks large enough and the whether is nice enough that I cut/pull it away.
The front flower garden needs nothing done to it since there is still only 2 plants in it. Next year will be a great year for gardening at the Lock house... lots to do!

Vegetable garden: Quick update

We have decided not to turn over the garden or add the compost until next spring once the ground thaws a bit. Upon second thought we decided not to give the dogs a big mud pile to run in every time it rains or the snow thaws. Once the garden is complete next spring it will have proper fencing to keep all animals out so it won't be a concern. I am looking forward to getting seedlings going over this winter and we plan on ordering from a catalogue... not sure which one yet, have to research a bit more first.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Greens, Greens and more Greens

Beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens are a few of what I am talking about. These wonderful greens are some of the worlds most healthy foods along with their price being more than reasonable, they are a great bang for your buck. Loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and K, folate, iron and calcium. They are versatile and a wonderful addition to your grocery list. You can use them for a salad, steam them, fry them, wrap them, and simply substitute them for head lettuce which is lacking in nutritional value.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vegetable Garden: some progress is better than none

Our up and coming vegetable garden is now a pile of dirt in the back of our yard. We have yet to turn over the dirt or add any compost but we hope to get that done before the ground gets too hard... which will need to be very soon.

Our very small garden of tomatoes and peppers served us well this summer and we got many tomatoes and we were even able to can some peppers. We now have banana peppers for sandwiches, soups and stews for the winter.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ultimate Sausage Cheese Pizza

Another recipe from 'Cook Yourself Thin'. Pretty good! Not the best pizza I've ever had, but for a healthy alternative it was worth the sacrifice. To me nothing beats a greasy pepperoni pizza from Capri or Little Caesars, but this was quite good. Recipe can be found HERE. It wasn't difficult to make, although I had a difficult time coming across Chicken Basil Sausage but I think any chicken or turkey sausage will work with this recipe. I used a regular turkey sausage and it was fine. This is a recipe that can be modified to suit your tastes as well. I like broccoli on my pizza so I added that to half (since I wanted to also try it by the recipe). You could add mushrooms, regular bell peppers (which would be an even healthier alternative to the roasted), or any other fresh vegetable that you enjoy. Its very versatile and is definitely a keeper for a starting point to a healthy pizza the whole family will enjoy. You could also split the dough and make small individual pizzas for the entire family (may need to double the recipe for a family of 4).

Calories per serving 475

Friday, August 21, 2009

Opimian Society

The Opimian Society is a wine group in Canada. They offer cellar offerings from small vineyards around the world. They send out offerings 8 times each year, and each offering is from different regions. They also offer a select program which sends you 6 bottles automatically from each offering. We have been members of the select program for 3 years now and have recently canceled. We found that they send from the same wineries each year and often the same wines. Also, sometimes each offering comes with 6 bottles from the same winery. It is a good program to do for one year to get your cellar going but once you have a good starting point, it is my advice to just order when you see something you like. Another downside to the society is that you have to order 6-12 bottles of each wine you select. This means if by chance you don't like it you are stuck with 6-12 bottles. Therefore, it is nice to have a group of people to share the wine with and split the cost. Only down side to this is if you really like the wine, you now have to give some away. Either way is a risk, but so is purchasing any wine. They also send you Tidings Magazine (free) which is a nice magazine primarily about food and wine and offer tastings in major cities of most provinces (extra cost). We do enjoy the society and plan to continuing our membership.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Portobello Mushroom Benedict with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

A recipe from the 'Cook Yourself Thin' cookbook. Aaron and I decided to give this a try. Not that we are partial to eggs benedict, I am not a big fan myself, but this recipe looked very tasty. The recipe can be found HERE. This recipe was delicious. I cut the mayo in half since I found it to be a bit much and over powered the red pepper flavour. Also we have used other types of greens for a substitute for the spinach... whatever you have on hand should be tasty, except maybe mustard greens, they can be a bit much. We used beet greens which was very yummy as well as collards. Spinach would be ideal since it is mild in flavour compared to most other greens but use what you have on hand. I would recommend this recipe for any occasion. It didn't take long to make and was no trouble at all.. but it is definitely nice enough for a special occasion such as an anniversary or when you want to impress your guest(s).

Calories per serving 253.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Do you really recycle?

Recycling has become part of most peoples every day life when it comes to cans, bottles and paper. But what about chemical waste, batteries, our clothes, old electronics and appliances, toys and any and all household items. You can go for a walk on garbage day and see many of these things on their way to our land fills. Why? There are many programs available for proper disposal of these items as well as reuse of most of them. Many people are too proud to have a garage sale, so donate. Diabetes Association and Salvation Army are just 2 of the many programs out there available for your household items to be "recycled". Anything in good working order can be given to others who can use it and need it. As for unusable things, there are many waste plants that will accept old appliances and electronics and sell off for scrap parts and any reusable parts and then disposes of the rest properly. Windsor has a decent program for recycling and information can be found HERE.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wine: Pelee Island Winery Visit-2009

Aaron and myself visited Pelee Island Winery recently. We were running low on our white wine selection and I tend to enjoy their white selection. Opposed to the LCBO, the winery has limited editions as well as simply a larger selection available. We did a few tastings and found some we enjoyed and one or 2 we did not. We purchased the 2008 Eco Trail-White-VQA, a blend of Auxerois and Chardonnay, which I rather enjoyed. It was light and fruity with a hint of acidity, a bit green for Aaron's tastes but he thought it was alright for an unoaked white. We also purchased the 2008 Pinot Grigio-VQA which is always one of my favourits. This Pinot Grigio has a great balance of fruity and grassy notes and is great to sip on its own or with some fresh summer salads. We also tried their unoaked Chardonnay which neither of us was very keen on. It was flat and not very complex as you would expect a Chardonnay to be. We also grabbed a bottle of their 2006 Umbrealla-Gewurztraminer Riesling which is 50% of each grape variety. We had the bottle a while after our visit and it was alright. Not what I was expecting but not terrible. It was a bit unbalances for me. It didn't have enough acidity to accompany the fruity palate and dry finish, it needed some crispiness to it, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Aaron and myself drink our fair share of wine. We used to own a brew on premise wine store, which we have since sold, and we are currently members of the Opimian Society. The area we live in is home to a astonishing 13 wineries, some of which we visit frequently. Some being small and quaint such as Erie Shores and some are quite large such as Pelee Island. You can consider us self proclaimed "wine experts". Taking all of this into account, I think its just common sense that we write about the wines we drink and the wineries we visit. We will start writing all about the wines we drink and evaluating them and offer pairing suggestions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Herb Garden: Pruning/Harvesting

Most herbs need constant pruning. I prune approx. 2-3 inches and try to keep the shape of the plant. Anything that looks like it may be dying I take off as well. It is best to trim just before the herb would flower since the oils are maximized at this point in time. Although I will just go out and pick a few leaves when I need them, it is good to do the full trim to keep the plant growing and to get the most out of one season. If your plant looks like it is struggling it should also be cut back so that the water and food can be more concentrated allowing the plant to regenerate faster.
A great Herb Garden Blog is herbgardeningguru. She has plenty of information about planting, pruning/harvesting, storing, etc.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Herb Garden: Small but Useful

Rosemary, Greek Oregano, Sweet Basil

Our super small herb garden is great. Everything is growing well and I only have to water once a week. I have been using the fresh herbs in lots of my cooking and in my salads. It makes me excited to get the gardens ready by this fall so we can have them up and running full on next summer. I am looking forward to having plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables to cook with and share with family and friends. It will be so great to just walk outside and pick fresh lettuce, herbs and other vegetables for a salad anytime I'd like.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recipes: Main Course=Salad!

I made the most delicious salad for dinner last night. I simply used 1 small head green leaf lettuce and added 1/2 cup quinoa, 1 tbsp dried cranberries, 1/4 cup tomatoes, 1 tbsp sunflower seed (shelled of course), 1/4 cup feta cheese, 1 scallions and 1/4 sliced red peppers. I tossed it with some 2 tbsp Italian dressing and bin-appetite! Feel free to use any of your favourite dressings, seeds and dried fruit. You could also us 1-2 eggs instead of quinoa for protein.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vegetable Garden: Vertical Garden

Aaron's brother had a great idea on how to utilize the space in our yard, or lack there of. He suggested to use vertical gardens on the fence. We thought this was a great idea. The concept is to hang baskets or boxes along the fence in the yard (another way is to set up standing garden fencing for vining type plants to grow up such as beans or cucumbers). This would allow us to have lots of gardens while not sacrificing the lawn space for the kids and dogs. This may have extra cost involved when compared to a regular garden but I think the saved space is worth the cost. This may be a project for next year or 2 since we would be building the boxes ourselves. Regardless of when or if we do it, I think its a wonderful idea.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vegetable Garden: Construction has begun

Aaron, with help from his brother Gavin, took out our maple tree stump from the back corner of our yard. The plan now is to kill the grass (with herbicidal vinegar of course) and turn over the dirt. Hopefully we get this done in time for the snow... we have lots of time but will it get done?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Recepes: Lentils and Swiss Chard

A great vegetarian dish. Lentils are easy to cook and very nutritious. Soak 1 cup-dry lentils in water overnight and then boil them like pasta until desired texture. Once cooked, strain and set lentils aside. In a deep frying pan saute a total of 2 cups your choice of vegetables such as mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers or asparagus with 2 tsp-olive oil with 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 cloves minced garlic. Salt and pepper as desired. Once vegetables are tender add 2 bundles swiss chard. Toss chard with vegetable mix and saute until wilted, approx: 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add lentils to the pan with the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Toss and cover for 1 minute and serve with some fresh parsley and oregano with some shredded parmesan or mozzarella .

Monday, June 1, 2009

Locust Tree Bugs

We discovered bugs allover our Locust tree. They are these little green hopping bugs and they are allover it. After doing some research we discovered they are relatively harmless little bugs called treehoppers. The generally like Locust trees and come and go from year to year. From what I have read there isn't much we can do to get rid of them at this point and no real reason to worry.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yucky Yuccas

We worked a bit on our back gardens around the pool. We took out a Yucca and put in some Zebra Grass in its place. The problem with Yuccas is that they grow larger and larger and are a pain to split. They are tough to keep looking clean and kept. The dead leaves are difficult to pull off as are the flower stalks in the fall. We have one more Yucca to dig out and more! As nice as they can look I find them more work than they are worth. My advice is if you are considering them...know they are far from low maintenance, but are nice if you keep up with them. Also to save $$, if you need more than one and can wait for the second, just purchase the one and wait one season and you should be able to split it and have a second plant...if not a third and fourth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vegetable Garden: Coming Soon....We Hope

We have yet to find the time to get started on our vegetable garden. This weekend my mom is coming over Saturday to watch Owen so we can open the pool and hopefully we get that done quickly and have extra time to get started on the vegetable gardens. I did, although, purchase 1 tomato, 1 sweet banana pepper and 1 hot banana pepper plant for the extremely small garden in the backyard. Its not much but its better than nothing. This small garden will eventually be for the kids to plant things and watch them grow... our kids will hopefully enjoy some gardening with Mom and Dad.

Herb Garden: Small Start

I purchased some herb plants yesterday to plant in our small existing back garden. The garden is very small and I just bought a few plants to get started. I purchased 2 sweet basil, 2 oregano, 1 thyme and 1 rosemary. I planted them and added organic food to the soil to help them along since the soil here is very much clay based. I figured since the garden construction hasn't even started yet I should at least plant a few things in the gardens that are ready. Its a small start, but its better than nothing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Front Garden Reconstruction

This past weekend we finally got to work on the front garden. We were able to strip it down...literally, there are only 2 plants left. Aaron dug out the 3 holly and the 2 large and 3 small evergreens that were half dead and looking nasty. My Aunt came over and watched baby Owen for us while we stripped it down. It only took a few hours and we also were able to clean up the small garden at the end of the driveway. Next step with the front flower garden is to purchase new plants and create a whole new look of the front of our home. We want to raise the garden as well as make it a bit bigger and change the shape a bit. We hope to get a sort of Contemporary look. I want the garden to look clean and kept but keep a natural feel and relatively low maintenance. I may go with some yews, dogwoods or spireas for against the house and them some ground cover and hostas upfront. I will also add annuals each year in the spring to add some colour. So that is some of my current ideas but we shall see what I end up doing.
So here we have all our old plants, our empty front garden and our small front garden.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recipes: Quinoa

This grain has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthful choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life System for long-duration manned spaceflights.-wikipedia

Made just like rice, quinoa is a great addition to any pantry. You can find plenty of recipes online but it is easy to come up with your own.
Simply cook it with water/stock and add your choice of spices with any combination of vegetables, meat, tofu, beans for whatever suites your mood. Also try adding quinoa to your favourite broth soups, stews pasta sauces, salads and even cereals. Quick, easy and most importantly...healthy!

Here are 3 of my favorite recipes found online:
Quinoa with Hot Italian Sausage & Feta
Peruvian Quinoa Stew
Quinoa Tabouli

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day Gifts

So for this mothers day I decided to give the 2 mothers something practical and "green". So I found some pots that had a very nice saying on them "the best mothers grow into grandmothers" and I purchased 2 oregano plants and potted them in the decorative pots. They turned out great. I hope that our moms use the oregano for cooking but it is a nice decorative plant even if they don't, and it smells wonderful.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Herb Garden: Beginning

For this spring/summer I plan on converting 1 of our existing flower gardens into an herb garden. It is in the backyard against the house. I am just going to do a few of the most commonly used herbs. Maybe some basil, oregano, thyme, chives and rosemary for this year. We will see how we do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weeds, Weeds and more Weeds

We live across from a park and field which is overrun by dandelions. Every year when they go to seed you can imagine how many blow into our grass and gardens. So I spent yesterday afternoon weeding our front gardens. Dandelion roots go quite deep so they can be a pain to remove. We don't use herbicides so we have to dig them out. If there aren't plants in the immediate area I will use vinegar and water to kill them but it will also kill anything else it hits so you have to be careful not to hit your good plants. Although it doesn't matter how often I weed them, there are always more within a few days.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sushi's for Dinner Tonight

One of my favourite foods is sushi. I love the flavour combinations, different textures, sauces and to be totally honest, its quite sexy to eat with your partner. The idea of eating raw fish may not seem very delightful for some people but is definitely good for you. This meal is high in protein, low in fat and contains Omega-3 fatty acids. The Benefits far out weight the risks of eating sushi. Its not difficult to make at home if you are wanting to eat sushi but can't afford the cost of eating out/take-out.
Here are some great sites with methods and recipes to make your own sushi: favourite (best viewed with firefox)
or sushi-guide

So don't be afraid to try something new and different. You may be surprised, it really is delicious, whether you eat out or make it at home.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going Green: Some of Our Efforts

The cost of big changes such as solar panels are far too expensive for us right now, but we have made many small affordable changes. Many of the small changes also save you $money$. If everyone on the planet made three small changes imagine the impact it would have on our environment.

As for the Lock household so far we have:
-changed to compact flourescent bulbs around the house $
-turn on lights only when needed $
-washing clothes in cold water $
-use reusable water bottles and a water cooler $
-using cloth diapers rather than disposables $
-reduce, reuse, recycle (of course)
-use non toxic cleaning products (such as Method)
-purchase organic produce (when prices reasonably)
-if its yellow let it mellow (only flush when necessary) $
-car pool when possible $

They may be small changes but over time they make an impact. Earth day is on the calendar one day of the year when it it really everyday!

Aaron's Rant - Grass

It was 30ºC yesterday; that's right, it's not even may and we're at 30º! Even with all the pirate attacks of late, I suppose it hasn't been enough to mitigate the effects of climate change and global warming. Yesterday was actually the climax of a series of ever warming days, which means that the grass had become very green and prolific, and of course, needed to be cut.

The typical urban lawn must be, in my estimation, the bane of the worlds "greening" efforts. Sure, it is a plant, and does convert some carbon dioxide to oxygen, but really, it required ludicrous amounts of water, fertilizer and maintenance to keep it up to the Jones' standards.

We as a society, in an effort to be more sustainable and eliminate our dependence on the huge agri-business conglomerates, should convert our yards to food producing gardens. If, as communities, we converted out yards into food producing gardens, we could teach our children important skills, eliminate our resource draining grass and of course provide ourselves with a locally grown, organic, and delicious meal.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homemade Baby Food

In order to save some extra cash and optimize health for our 9 month old son, we have been making his baby food rather than buying the canned food. We purchase only organic food, when available, and usually steam or roast the food to maximize nutrition and taste. Hopefully when our vegetable garden is up and growing we can use our own organic foods for Owen but store bought organic will have to do for now. So far it has been a great money saver and has taken very little time and effort. If you are considering making your own baby food all you will need is a good food mill or processor and a few ice cube trays. A good baby food cookbook is a great addition and they are typically loaded with nutritional information as well as guidelines for age appropriate foods.
I suggest: Cooking for Baby -wholesome.homemade.delicious By Lisa Barnes, available at Although, as I said, there are plenty of great books out there so just find one that best resembles the types of foods you would usually have in your home.

Recipes: Crispy Chicken Wings...not fried

We have found it difficult to find a recipe for chicken wings that are tasty and not fried! Aaron's brother then told us a way to cook them in the oven while achieving optimum crispiness. We gave it a try and they were delicious.

The way to do it is to wash chicken and pat dry. Then toss them in some all purpose flour. Place them on a rack on top of a baking sheet (cover baking sheet with tin foil for drippings) and spray them lightly with some olive oil or your choice of cooking spray and pop them into a preheated 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. No turning is necessary. Then toss with your favourite sauce...mine being Franks Red Hot dipped in ranch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recipes: Marinated Flank Steak

I recently discovered the low cost of flank steak. When cooked properly, this steak is tender and juicy. To feed a family of four would cost less than $10.00 for the steak, not too shabby for steak.

I simply marinated the steak in equal parts soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and a bit of honey and minced shallots for 4 hours. It was delicious. Served with some broccoli and lima beans, it makes for one tasty and healthy dinner.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gardening 101

Aaron and I are planing on putting in a vegetable garden this summer. We feel this will be a great way to save money, eat healthier all while taking a step in a greener direction. We decided to transform a section of our yard, about 10'x10', into a wonderful vegetable garden. We purchased a book called 'The Canadian Edible Garden' and will use that as our main source of reference while deciding what to plant and how. This year I imagine we will only get the garden put in and there won't be time for planting. Hopefully this winter we get our seedlings started and are ready to go the spring of 2010.

As for our flower gardens around the yard, we have major work to do. We plan on totally revamping the entire style of the gardens over the next 2 years. We have plenty of work ahead of us but we are both excited to get started. This year we plan on gutting the gardens and deciding on a design and game plan.