Keeping the house, the kids and the hubby without breaking the bank, the earth, the people I love, or myself.

Kitchen Tools I Wouldn't Cook Without


The mandolin is invaluable when slicing root vegetables. There are generally additional blades for cutting julienne strips and wider strips as well. Whether putting up carrots or making scalloped potatoes, french fries or crudités; this tool reduces the toil and the time needed to cut any of these harder vegetables by any other means.

Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer

This peeler/corer/slicer is my favourite. I do own others, and they have their uses, but this is the one I use when I have a couple bushels of crisp apples in the fall. If we're canning apple slices or freezing them, we can whip through them in no time with this handy tool. It takes less than a minute to peel core and slice an apple with this tool.

When working with mealy-type apples (which will turn to mush in the above-pictured tool), I use this type of peeler:
Combined with this slicer:

This slicer is used almost daily during the school year to slice apples for the kids' lunches.

Mini Food Processor

I've used this thing so much over the past 7 or 8 years, I'm surprised it hasn't died yet. I make our chicken and egg salads. We crush our dried chili peppers in it. I chop nuts in it. I slice carrots and celery in it (it's the fastest way to do so!) I shred zucchini and other vegetables or cheese in it. You want an egg salad that's a spreadable consistency? Use the food processor. Yes, it only holds two cups, but that's enough even for my family of five. You would be surprised how much one of these mini's can do. It's easy to clean, and small enough to not be a burden in the kitchen. Love it!

Plastic Lettuce Knife

We eat a lot of salad. We take great pride in our salads. My daughter has turned salad assembly into an art form. She'll call me on it, too when I've just chopped a bunch of vegetables and thrown them in a salad bowl. "Fail on the presentation, mom."

A plastic lettuce knife won't cause your lettuce to brown and wilt like metal knives will. I know many people prefer to tear their lettuce. I'd rather cut it. I get the pieces to the size I want and I can cut many more pieces at one time than I can tear. Using a knife also reduces risk of transferring bacteria to food from your hands.

The best thing about a plastic lettuce knife is it will not cut you. Or your kindergartner. With a plastic knife like this, younger kids can get started in the kitchen a lot earlier than they would with only metal knives to use.

Electric Griddle

If your stove doesn't include a griddle, it pays to own an electric one. Pancake breakfasts, grilled cheese dinners, quesadillas, Reuben Sandwiches ... all so much easier on a large electric griddle. In my largest skillet I could cook two pancakes or two grilled cheese sandwiches or one quesadilla. With the griddle, I make the whole family's at one time. Anything that saves me time cooking for a family is worth the expense in my book!

Crock Pot / Slow Cooker

When I was a single, working mom I fell in love with my crock pot. No more fast food because we were starving on the way home from work/school and nothing in the house would be ready in a timely manner. I'd start a chicken, pork chops, roasts, soups, or chili in the morning when we left for school and work and come home to a slow-cooked, hearty, nutritious meal. It saved my sanity and my kids' health!

It is imperative that you purchase a crock pot with a removable crock. These things are impossible to clean properly without the ability to remove the crock.

What are your favourite kitchen gadgets?


The End of Childhood


Where do you draw that line between childhood and adolescence? When does a child creep quietly from the magical land of wonder into the skeptical territory of the tweeners? I used to think that for most kids, 6th grade marked the advent of adolescence. Now with girls starting puberty at 9 and 10, it's harder to put an age to it.

Kids seem to know so much more than they should by age 10 these days, too. They can see more violence on tv and in video games than I hope they would ever see in their lives. Of course, though, I'm one of those mean moms who won't let her kids watch or play that kind of stuff.

The other day my sweet, beautiful 9-year-old boy broke my heart. He gave me that sly smile, the one that says "I'm smart. I'm very smart. And I know it." He told me that he went to Google, typed in "Santa" and clicked on "define" and learned that 'Santa is a mythical creature.' He said "mom, that means Santa is made-up. And now I know the parents really buy the presents." Ah, but see, Santa only brings presents to those who believe. (Santa only delivers one present to each believer in my house. I know he delivers 10-20 to other kids, but that's just because he feels so very sorry for them since their parents don't get them any presents at all!)

Now let's stop and think about this for a second, folks. Some other kid didn't tell him. He didn't find out because a nasty teacher thought it was time (happened to my oldest). He didn't learn it from an older sibling. He didn't just ask me directly. He GOOGLED Santa! And he found the answer he sought.

And now, my sweet, adorable, magic-filled child has crept into adolescence and suspicion over childhood myths is only the beginning . . .


My apologies (again)

Too much going on and an inability to use my personal computer have prevented me from completing those recipe posts. I'll get them done. In the meantime, I've got a bunch of other things to share with you, so bear with me. The other things are far more interesting than recipes anyway.


About This Blog

Saving money. Saving graces. Raising children, husbands and, sometimes, cats. Laughing. Living. Thinking. Doing. Life in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

About Me

I am a happily married woman with four children and various cats and kittens (fosters). I love to read and my favourite authors are George RR Martin, Thomas Hardy, Raymond Carver, PD James, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling, and Margaret Atwood. I know there are only three women in that list (and none of them American), so if you'd like to suggest some I'm willing to give them a shot! And yes, I am an American living in Canada. (Hence the nick -- CannedAm.) I like it here. There are things about the states that I miss, but my love is here and this country has things to offer that my own does not. Things that make my quality of life much better than it ever was in Ohio. Guess I'm stuck here. Though there's a nice spot in the Appalachian hills where I'd love to spend my retirement.

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