Summer Kitchens


Вітаємо !  Welcome to my next post that I am calling “Summer Kitchens”.

It’s July and it’s hot outside.  The sun is shining on the backyard garden that has been growing since Spring and it’s time to use up some of the great growing produce.  But as I just said…it’s hot outside and the last thing I want to do is to heat up the inside of our house.

This seems like the perfect time of year for me to remember and perhaps remind you of cooking in your own little outside kitchen.  Yes, I’m referring to the Summer Kitchen.

Well actually it’s not an outside kitchen at all.  It is a kitchen that is not attached to our house.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts, if you are not from the Prairies, you may not know what I am talking about because I have not seen them anywhere else around here.  I wish that I still had pictures of our old family’s Summer kitchen.

In my recollections, my parents’  Summer kitchen was a small shed-like building that my dad had built behind our main house.  The main house where we lived had its own kitchen, but when it was hot outside in July and August, and I’m referring to 28C plus temperatures, we did not want to heat up the house with hot boiling and steaming water when cooking each day.  Also the Summer kitchens reduced the sometimes unpleasant smells of many foods.  Sour cabbage comes to mind!  The Summer kitchen provided another cooking area where the wonderful garden produce could be harvested and preserved.

Speaking of preserves, do you still preserve foods?  I still do, but many of my friends and their children no longer bother or even know how, and it’s kind of a shame.  I suppose it’s not a necessity as food is so much more available now a days and true, no need to “put away” fruits and vegetables.  Freezing and storage of food is not as much of a concern as it was 60 years ago either.  But what’s really sad is that the art of preserving is becoming lost.  Many of our younger generation seems to not know how to do anything “from scratch” and seriously, I think some don’t even realize that  the processed food they buy in the stores even came from a farm garden or a farm animal.  But that’s a whole different topic.  I digress.

Today it’s 26C and I do wish that I still had my Summer kitchen.   I made Dill Pickles today and yes, the house is hotter than usual.  If you are wanting to heat your house up, ha ha, maybe try out my recipe.

I’m attaching a few photos here along with my Mom’s Ukrainian Dill Pickle recipe that I used.  There are many good recipes available but I prefer hers.  It’s quick and easy and the dills stay crisp and crunchy.  They will be ready in about ten days as well.

Mom’s Ukrainian Garlic Dill Pickles


  • 12 cups water
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup pickling salt (kosher works as well)

Boil for 5-8 minutes 



Making a brine

Wash the freshly picked cucumbers and if not using right away, immerse them in ice water to preserve their crispness.  When my garden does not give me an abundant harvest, I buy my cucumbers at a local farm market.  Our family prefers small dills  (2-3 inches long) and I choose the smallest cucumbers that I can.


Be sure you wash and sterile your jars and lids.  There are many ways to sterilize jars.  My preferred method is to wash them with hot sudsy water.  I then add them to a large pot filled with boiling water and continue to boil them for 10-15 minutes.  Be careful taking them out of the water as they will be hot, and place onto a tea towel.  They are now ready to fill. If you are not ready to fill them, put them inverted into a 225F oven until you are ready to use them.

Pack the jars with fresh dill weed and peeled garlic.  Use 3-4 cloves of garlic or more.  There never seems to be enough garlic!


Cut off about 1/8 inch of both ends of your cucumbers and pack into your sterilized jars.  Fill with the simmering brine to within a half inch of the top.

Place the sterilized lids on the jar and tighten the metal screw tops.

Set aside in a cool dark place to enjoy later during the cooler days!  But if you can’t wait, they will be ready in approximately ten days.

Yields 4 quarts or around 8 pints.



Thank you for reading and enjoy the Summer heat…before we know it, it’ll be Fall!

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Colours of Autumn

It is a crisp cool Sunday morning!  We’ve just turned the clocks back one hour as Daylight Savings Time has ended.  If you are not sure what I mean…..In the Spring, we spring ahead! In the Fall, we fall back!

Looking outside I can see spider webs glistening on the branches of our deciduous trees.  The trees’ leaves have started to curl and swing in the breeze threatening to fall, but not before they turn bright orange, yellow and red.  I went outside just now to take these photos.

A gentle breeze just passed through the leaves of our giant Maple tree, and just for a moment, it sounded like the tree just sighed.

This is just the beginning and soon there will be piles and piles of leaves on the ground.  Yes, it’s Autumn in Canada.

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Sawhorses in Winter !

Our grass is green and the daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths are in bloom.  The temperatures are in the mid-teens and higher.  Ah, so this must be Spring!


No, wait.  How can it be Spring?  It’s only March 3 and the Spring season does not begin until March 21st.  Are we blessed or what?

Okay so not everyone in Canada is cutting their grass yet or taking a walk in the sunshine wearing their Summertime shorts.  Many of our fellow Canadians are still dealing with very cold temperatures into the minus 20s and shovelling out from several feet of snow.  After all, it is only the beginning of March.  Not sure why it’s happening but for us out here in the West Coast, we will take the sunshine and warm temperatures.

I used the wheelbarrow yesterday to move some soil from part of my garden to the side yard.  I then used the saw-horse to suspend some boards….wait, this is not what I want to tell you.  I want to tell you that yesterday I got all choked up and cried when I used that saw-horse. Silly, right?  A flood of memories about a saw-horse?  Please read on.

For those of you who do not know what a saw-horse is…here’s a picture of one in our backyard.


Saw-horses are used in construction.  It’s just a beam of wood with four legs.  Two of these can be used to support a piece of wood for sawing, for example.  Yesterday these saw-horses made me cry and are the catalysts reviving my memories of growing up in the cold Winter months in Manitoba.

I recall one year in particular when I spent a lot of time playing outside with my dad.  He was actually working but I thought of it as “playing with me”.

My dad was a carpenter by trade. He was what was known as a finishing carpenter but from what I can remember, he worked on all sorts of projects.  Playing with dad happened mostly in the Winter months because my dad was often laid off during this time of year.  It was usually too cold for my dad to work outside on newly constructed houses.  I found out years later that the construction crews always tried to at least get the framing done and the roof on so that they could have some work inside during the Winter months.  But this did not always happen.

So during these times, my dad worked at home.  He kept busy with home maintenance projects that mom often found for him aka honey do lists.  He really liked to build his own tool boxes and make small tables, chairs and dressers.  He used many tools and he had saw-horses.

I used to climb up on his saw-horses and pretend that they were my ponies.  They seemed just perfect for sitting on whenever I was in the barn or wood shed with him.  Remember now, there wasn’t a lot of things for a little kid to do in the middle of Winter on the prairies.  I had to use my imagination and find my own fun.

My dad knew that I really loved sitting on his saw-horses.  He had to constantly shoo me off whenever he needed to use them.

One bitterly cold day my dad said that he had a surprise for me outside.  I bundled up very warm in my parka, fleece-lined boots, woollen scarf and mittens and followed him outside to the barn.

Can you guess what was waiting for me in the barn?  There was a horse of my very own.

Dad had cut out a piece of plywood in the shape of a horse head and nailed it on a saw-horse.  He had made a harness and reins out of twine.  The saw-horse “pony” even had a tail made out of dry straw.  It was a wonderful surprise for me.

I hadn’t thought of that saw-horse until yesterday.  Maybe this post isn’t about the memories of a wooden saw-horse “pony” at all….just memories of spending special times with my dad.

Enjoy the last few weeks of Winter!

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