Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

For the #HeughansHeughligans = a Mustard Bean Pickle recipe July 16, 2013

In response to the furore racing around the Outlander world about main character Jamie Fraser being played by Sam Heughan, and the requirement that to be a #HeughansHeughligans you must like pickles (don’t ask).  I hereby humbly submit my mother-in-law’s Mustard Bean Pickle recipe.  I love these.  I haven’t made them in years, but it might just be time again!  (This is not Outlander’s Kitchen.  I am not a chef).


5 qt cut up beans (personally, I like them left long)

2.5 c boiling water

2.5 tsp pickling salt*

Cook beans in water/salt  above until just tender.  Drain.  Reserve liquid.  In a bowl, mix

1.25 c flour

5 tsp pickling salt

3/4 c dry mustard

2.5 tsp turmeric

8 c sugar (5 brown+3 white)

with half the reserved bean liquid to make a smooth, thin paste.  Reserve.  Boil

6.5 c vinegar

2.5 tbsp celery seeds

2 c of water

Gradually add this vinegar mixture TO the paste, mixing well after each addition.  Return to the pot and cook, stirring constantly until thick- about 5 minutes.   Add beans and bring to a boil.

Pour into hot sterilized jars.  Seal.

Munch cold while enjoying Outlander starring Sam Heughan on Starz come spring 2014.


*note= use pickling salt as the iodine in regular salt makes pickles soft.  No one wants droopy pickles.





the amazing fruit fly trap July 26, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:46 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

My friend Dani told me about this fly trap, and so for the last couple of years, we have NO problems with fruit flies.  I saw one last week.  I recharged my trap, and this is what I found in it yesterday:

the very efficient, watery fruit fly grave

The recipe is extremely simple. Mix a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish washing detergent.

Set the trap near where you store your fruit, and then start counting bodies.

I just leave the trap out until it evaporates, then I rinse it out and start again.

We don’t see fruit flies any more, except in the trap.  They hatch and are lured to their death almost simultaneously, it seems.

Best of all, this is a perfectly safe pesticide solution.

Fly trap placed near fruit.






South West black been salad July 19, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:15 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Really fresh, and something different!

Big can (14 oz) of rinsed black beans,

big can (14 oz)  of Niblets corn (I read frozen peaches and cream corn is okay as well)

one each finely diced tomato and red pepper

Tennis ball sized red onion, diced and sprinkled with 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar to weep, then set in microwave for a minute (this takes the burn out of the onion so it stays down)

1/2 c  lime juice

finely chopped fresh cilantro (half a bunch- maybe 1/4 cup worth?)

Let sit a bit for flavours to meld.  May serve with taco chips to scoop.  You could also put it into a taco bowl, or serve on lettuce.


jello juice popcicles July 16, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:11 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Mmmm.  A perfect treat for a hot summer day, and we’ve been getting a lot of those lately!

1 – 100 g (3 oz) package of Jello™

1 – 200 ml (6 oz) 100% juice box  (always Sun-Rype™ for this Kelowna girl!)

250 ml (1 c) boiling water.

popcicle molds

Into a pint (500 ml) measuring cup, pour  in a scant cup of boiling water, add the Jello .  Stir well until the gelatin is thoroughly dissolved.  Pour in the juice, stirring gently, so as not to spill.

Pour into your popcicle molds.   Freeze.

These are packed full of flavour, and they don’t melt as readily as regular popcicles.  Mmmmmm.   😛


Yam fries April 30, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:17 am
Tags: ,

Take a good sized yam, slice it  into thin strips of  ‘fries.’  Toss them in a tbsp of oil with 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and a sliced onion, spiced with seasoning salt and pepper.  Convection bake 25 mins at 410F.

They’re sweet and salty; crunchy and soft.



healthy onion rings November 10, 2011

Filed under: Commentary,Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have been asked for my onion ring recipe. I love onion rings. A&W’s are my favorite, but the fat quantity is too excessive for me to enjoy this treat more than once or twice a year.

I did not make up this recipe, but it is really wonderful, so I will provide the link to the original website. These are crisp and tasty, as well as very easy to make.

You can find the recipe HERE.  They’re called “Simply the Best Onion Rings” and they really are fantastic.  I didn’t bother making mine as rings- just sliced them.  It was simple.  Give them a try!


meatloaf October 22, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:41 pm
Tags: , ,

I made the best meatloaf I’d ever made and so I preserve here the recipe for future reference. As usual, all measurements are approximate, as I throw together meals with some casualness!

In your blender, puree one large (4″ diameter) onion, 2 stalks of celery, 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup, and the liquid from a 10 0z can of sliced mushrooms.

Pour the puree into a large frying pan and simmer 4 or 5 mins.

In a large mixing bowl, break up one kg  (2+ lbs) of lean ground beef, pour the puree over, and stir, add 2 eggs, the canned mushrooms, seasoning salt, parsley, majoram, black pepper, garlic flakes (say 1/2 tsp of each spice), add bread crumbs to get a firm consistency- about a cup to 1.5 c-

Oil a 9X12 pan.  Form 3 loaves and place them short ways in the pan, 2 against the sides, one in the middle, so there is about 1-2″ between them.  (Each will be about 9X3)

Bake, covered in foil, in a 325 F oven for an hour.

Add 1/4 c of milk to the remaining 1/2 can of mushroom soup.  Mix well.

Remove meatloaves from oven, and baste each liberally with the soup mix.  Return to oven to bake for another 30-45 mins uncovered.

These are flavourful and moist.  I served 4 with one loaf, one went into the freezer, and one went into the fridge for leftovers. Very good in sandwiches!

I baked russet potatoes to go along with these.  I put a skewer through the centre of each potato, and placed it directly on the rack.  They were added a few minutes after the loaves went in, so they were baking about 90 mins total.


apple cinnamon scones October 15, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

To be honest, these might not technically be scones, because of the whole rolling thing, but the dough is a basic biscuit dough like one uses for scones, so that’s what I’m calling this creation I came up with this evening.

The crust is very flaky and flavourful.  I cannot make pie crust to save my life, but no one will complain if I make this instead!

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Serves 8, or two with left-overs!  ;-P


Dice one tart cooking apple (I used an Ambrosia) into approx 1/4″ cubes (or you could grate it instead), toss with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp Demarara or brown sugar, 1 tbsp melted butter.

In another bowl, mix 2 c flour, 1 tbsp white sugar, 1.5 tsp baking power, 1 tsp salt. Cut in 1/4 c butter with pastry blender. Add in 1 c milk.  Mix well.

Turn out onto counter, Roll into a 12″ square. Spread apple filling onto dough, leaving 1′ border. Roll up. Squish down, keeping filling in! So it’s about 1″ high. Cut into 2 scones, each about 4″ X 6″.

Bake for 25 mins 400 F.

Melt 1 tbsp of butter. Brush scones with butter, sprinkle with a thin coating of icing sugar and cinnamon. Replace in the oven and bake for 4-5 more minutes.

To serve, slice each scone into 4 slices and serve with whipped cream or ice cream along the side.

SOOOOO yummy!


smokey asparagus May 16, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:05 am
Tags: , ,

We live in an area that gets great asparagus this time of year, so we’re regularly dropping in to the local produce places and stocking up five pounds at a time.  As a result, we tend to look for inventive ways to serve up this tasty treat.  This evening I came up with a winner, so I’m sharing it with you!  To serve two.

2 smokies (smoked sausages about 3 cm in diameter and 15 cm long)  I microwaved mine 2 mins to thaw them.

500 grams/1 lb of asparagus.  (snapped and washed).

1 tbsp fancy European mustard- I used a coarse Dutch mustard.

1 tbsp of granulated sugar.

In a large pan with a lid, steam asparagus with the lid on for 4 mins, while you slice the smokie into long strips (In half lengthways, then slicing each half into thirds lengthways).   When the asparagus is bright green, toss in the sliced smokie pieces and remove the lid to let any remaining moisture escape.  Mix a tbsp of mustard and the sugar with a tbsp of water, sprinkle over the asparagus and smokies, toss gently to cover.  Turn off the heat and top with a lid while you make a salad, cook other veggies, or whatever.  (2 or 3 mins).  Serve!

The juices and fat from the smokie and the mustard provide a really nice counterpoint to the asparagus and the colour contrast is also quite attractive.  Very yummy!


French onion soup April 16, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:46 am
Tags: , , ,

When we were in France recently, we noticed onion soup on the menu of a small cafe for 20 Euros a bowl.  At that price, it’s not an appetizer! (I hope). I didn’t buy any in France, though it’s probably my favourite soup, and one wants to embrace all the tourist clichés!

However, after two weeks at home I was ready for a bowl  and made some tonight for dinner. I made a couple alterations to my normal way of doing it, and the result was the best onion soup I’ve ever made, so I’m recording exactly what I did for both my benefit, and for yours as well! This has a great mix of salt/sweet in it (and it cost about $2 to make, saving about 39 Euros). 😉

For 2.
Finely slice 2 medium onions.
In 2 tbsp of garlic butter (or plain butter with a clove of crushed garlic) gently saute the onions until starting to brown. Stir in two packets of Knorr OXO Beef bouillion sachets. Add 1.5 c of water, 1/8 c (30 ml) red wine, 2 tsp of soya sauce. Simmer for 20-30 mins.
To serve, sprinkle with cheese- parmesan is the easy choice, but swiss, emmental, gruyere are also options. You could add croutons before cheese if you like and if you use fresh cheese, broil or bake to melt the cheese before serving.


%d bloggers like this: