Nanny’s White Bread and the Bear Who Came to Visit


Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

We grew up to the smell of baking bread.  We enjoyed walking up to the house and smelling that wonderful smell even before we got to the open front door.  But we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed that heavenly smell.

First, a little background.  For a couple of years my family owned and ran a campground in the 1970’s up near Timmins, Ontario.  Yes – every kid’s dream.  I loved it!  We lived in a chalet overlooking Nighthawk Lake.  Sometimes we even had visitors arrive by seaplane.  We would watch them land on the lake and ferry up close to shore.

What adventures we had!  We had private islands, we would walk the rocky shores and explore, we even found an abandoned cabin in the woods.  All summer we would swim, play in our treehouse and sunbathe.  Every child camping was a new friend.  No wonder I loved it.

But back to that heavenly smelling bread.  One day, while Mom was baking bread, she heard a noise at the door, only to look up into the hungry face of a bear!  She managed to scare the bear away only to realize that it was headed up towards the campers, where kids often played outside.  She bravely grabbed her broom to chase after that bear.

Even though I wasn’t there at the time, I can picture Mom waving her broom and yelling at the bear – then bravely hiding behind the nearest tree.  Of course, she had to do this more than once.  Even though we laugh about it now, I’m sure Mom was doing anything but laughing at the time.  And she saved the day!  That bear took off into the woods in the opposite direction from the campers.

A trap was set up right after that, and that bear was moved to another location, far from our campground.  All I know is that he never made it back to our front door again.

Mom learned to bake bread and got this recipe from her friend Pat and we have enjoyed it ever since.  Thanks Pat!

This makes a big batch, so feel free to adjust as necessary.

Nanny’s White Bread/Buns (Makes 5 loaves, or several dozen buns)

Bakes at 375°F.

  • 12 cups white flour
  • 2 Tbsp. instant yeast
  • 6 cups hot water (not boiling)
  • 1 cup cooking oil

Add the yeast to the flour and blend in well.  Add the oil to the hot water.  Now add the water and oil mixture to the flour and yeast mixture.  Start by mixing it all with a large spoon. Eventually you will have to start mixing it with your hands.  Make sure that all of the flour gets mixed in.

Now, cover the table (or a large baking sheet to cut down on the mess) with flour and dump the dough out onto it.  Sprinkle flour over the dough and begin to knead the dough by rocking it gently back and forth with the heal of your hands a few times, folding it, turning it and kneading some more.  Keep your table covered in flour so that the dough doesn’t stick, and keep sprinkling flour on the dough so that it doesn’t stick (too much!) to your hands.  Continue kneading for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Grease the sides and bottom of a large bowl.  Place the dough in the greased bowl.  Cover the dough with a clean cloth and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until double (approx. 1 hour).

Uncover the bowl and punch that dough!  Right in the middle!  My kids love this part.  You can hear the air escaping the dough.

Dump the dough onto a floured table (or floured baking sheet).  Knead the bread just until the air bubbles are gone.  It doesn’t take long.  Shape into loaves of bread and place in greased loaf pans, or shape into buns and place side by side on a greased baking sheet.  It is okay if they are touching.   Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Bake at 375° F for 30 – 40 minutes for loaves, or for 20-30 minutes for buns.

Butter the top of the buns, if desired, while warm.  This step isn’t necessary, but will keep the buns soft.

Buns can be bagged and frozen, but taste best served fresh.





Banana Loaf/Muffins and Our Battle with Food Allergies


Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

(Dairy free and egg free alternatives.)

When my oldest son was only 5 weeks old, we realized that he had food allergies.  I woke in the early hours of the morning with him thrashing in my arms trying to draw a breath.  He had aspirated some stomach contents.  After spending 10 days in the hospital just before Christmas, his eczema was already starting to flare.  Next began the arduous process of elimination, trying to determine what he was allergic to.

He was anaphylactic to eggs, dairy and peanuts, but he also had adverse reactions to wheat, soya, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, alcohol (through breast milk), fruit with sugar….  We ended up tweaking a few recipes, including this one.  This is the original recipe.  We ended up changing the wheat flour to oat flour and eliminating the eggs (which makes them heavy muffins – more like a biscuit), but still tasty.  Using very ripe bananas gives this recipe a stronger banana flavour.

This recipe is often requested as a birthday dessert in our home.  For those special occasions, I will ice the muffins (cupcakes) or make a broiled coconut topping on my cake.

This is a great recipe that earns me many compliments wherever I bring it.  Enjoy!

Banana Loaf/Muffins

(makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins)

Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F if using a dark coloured pan).

  • 1/2 cup lard or shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs (may be omitted)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Mix the above ingredients well with a hand mixer.  Add:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix well with a spatula.  Spoon filling into well greased muffin cups 3/4 full , or fill your well greased loaf pan or well greased 9×13 cake pan.  Bake for time indicated below in a preheated 350°F oven (325°F oven for dark coloured pans).

Bake muffins for 10 – 15 minutes (until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean), bake loaf for 45-50 minutes (until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean), bake 9×13 cake for 30-35 minutes (until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean).


Garlic Spare Ribs


Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

My mom made this recipe when we were growing up, and she got the recipe from my Auntie Joyce.  Some of my kids will request this meal for their birthday.  I like to serve it with rice.

Being Chinese New year today, I also made a vegetable stir fry and heated some potstickers. For dessert we had 6 varieties of ice cream (our favourite finale at a Chinese buffet).

And of course, I have to quadruple the sauce to cover all our ribs!

I cut up my pork ribs and boil them for 15 minutes.  Drain.  Add them to the Garlic Sauce below.

GARLIC SAUCE for ribs:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Cola
  • 2 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup soya sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • garlic – to taste

Combine all ingredients in a tall pot.  Heat to boiling.  Boil 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat. Add your cooked ribs to the sauce.  The longer you let the ribs sit, the more flavour seeps into them.  Reheat as necessary and serve with rice.

I just found out from Auntie Joyce that after coating the ribs in sauce, she bakes them in the oven for an hour to carmelize the sauce.  I’ll have to try that next time.  My cousin Danny called them candy meat.

Note:  we have different food restrictions in our house, so I changed up the sauce a bit tonight. I used caffeine free cola and eliminated the soya sauce, but added salt.  Still good!

Rosary Step 1 – Learning the Prayers


Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

My husband and I started praying the rosary together before we were married.  When we first started having kids we would pray the rosary as a family after supper before the kids went to bed.  When our oldest was not even walking yet, we were late starting our prayers and she crawled over to where our rosaries hung and pointed to them, letting us know that she was ready.  We eventually moved that rosary time to the morning before our school lessons and have been faithful all these years.  My husband now works shift work and joins us when he can.  We do miss days, but the rosary and Mary are an important part our faith journey.

It might seem a bit obvious, but learning the prayers in the rosary is the first step to praying the rosary.  Maybe you’re starting this rosary journey on your own, or maybe you’re teaching your kids at the same time.  They are never too young to start!

You can print off a hard copy of the PRAYERS USED IN PRAYING THE ROSARY to get you started or to help you remember.  Take time as you learn these prayers to think about the words.  Discuss the meaning behind the words with your kids if they’re joining you.  Think about the words and meditate on them.  So often we just ‘say’ our prayers and forget to ‘pray’ them.

Start practicing by praying the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be when you wake up and before you go to bed.  Practice during the day.  Have the kids memorize them line by line.  Each day memorize another line and have them repeat the whole prayer up to that point.  Before you know it – the prayers will be memorized.

You don’t have to wait to start praying the rosary until you have these prayers perfectly memorized, but being comfortable praying them will help.

Take at least a week to learn these prayers, longer if needed.  And really pray them.  They have the power to change your life.



Printable copy of HOW TO PRAY THE ROSARY.




Eliminating Candida – the Diet


Hi!  My name is Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!

Now that I have done a 3 Day Cleanse,  I’m ready for the next stage of my fight against Candida.  Yeast is a tricky thing to get rid of but I have found the keys are education, dedication and willpower.

Learning as much as you can about the fight against yeast, what it does and how to get rid of it, is important.

Yeast grows when you feed it.  So you have to starve it.  There are foods you need to avoid, especially sugar, but also anything high in carbohydrates.  Our bodies convert carbs into sugar which is why we need to avoid them.  So as well as sugars, we also need to avoid fruit, grains and starchy vegetables.  Check out this more complete list of foods to avoid.  Don’t worry though, there are still lots of foods to choose from. Keep reading.

As well as starving the yeast, you also need to kill it off.  For this you would take anti-fungals. I’ll be taking coconut oil and oregano oil.

But of course you need to add in probiotics as well.  Probiotics crowd out the Candida yeast and replace it with good bacteria.  Probiotics come in capsules and are easy to implement into your daily regime.  Fermented foods, such as yogurt, are also probiotics and are recommended to eat on the diet.  Eventually the good bacteria will win and the Candida will be gone, IF you also change your diet.

Now for the list of foods to eat.  There are quite a few foods on the list, but it does take dedication and willpower to stick to only these foods. The stricter you are with the diet, the sooner you will see results and the sooner you can start introducing new foods.  Every time you introduce a “maybe” food from the list, check to see how it makes you feel.  You should totally avoid that “maybe” list for at least 2 weeks, but more probably longer.  Some noticeable symptoms will include gas and belly swelling.  Listen to your body.  It will let you know. Yesterday we had a gathering at our house for supper, and even though I didn’t eat grains or desserts, I did eat meatballs with sugar in the sauce, cheese, and a few slices of raw apple. Before bed my husband commented that my belly looked swollen.  A clear sign that these were not good for my diet.

The more you cheat the longer your recovery will be, so I strongly recommend being very strict with your diet.  You don’t want to have to start all over again.  You can do this!

I plan to keep a pot of soup on the go, made with bone broth, vegetables and chicken.  As well as soup, I plan to eat a lot of salads and raw veggies.  I don’t eat eggs because I don’t tolerate them, but if you can, keeping hard boiled eggs in the fridge are also a quick snack to fight hunger.  Suppers will consist of meat and veggies.  Snacks will include some nuts and raw veggies. And drink LOTS and LOTS of water or herbal tea.

Besides diet, for the first couple of weeks I will take probiotics 4 times a day to really flood my system – upon waking, just before lunch, just before supper, and just before bed.  After that I will just take them twice a day.  I will take a tablespoon of coconut oil mid morning and mid afternoon.  Around 8pm I will take oil of oregano.  Upon waking, I will also take a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a glass of warm water to gently flush my liver.  I will make salad dressings with olive oil and lemon juice. Before bed I will also take a high fibre, psyllium drink to help flush away dead yeast cells.

Read more about how long each stage should last here.




Eliminating Candida – Day 1, 2 and 3 – the Cleanse


Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11, and Grandmelina to 2!

I took a course of antibiotics recently and DIDN’T replenish my system with probiotics immediately. You think I’d know better by now. This is not my first time getting rid of yeast. Step 1, the cleanse – starting in earnest tomorrow. Already started changing my diet to minimize the candida die-off and starve the yeast.

I started changing my diet by reducing sugar and eliminating grains.  I started eliminating refined sugar, then fruit, next starchy vegetables.  Grains just generally make me feel yucky so they were easy to eliminate.  I usually don’t eat them at all, but we just finished Christmas.  Need I say more?

Tomorrow I will start my candida cleanse.  This will be a very strict diet to start killing off the yeast (candida).  I was checking my fridge to see what I have to work with.  I will make a soup with vegetable broth, onions, garlic, cabbage, celery and tomatoes.  This will be my main food during the cleanse.  I have a couple of cucumbers in the fridge and some celery sticks that I will be feasting on too.  I will also drink LOTS of water, take a tablespoon of coconut oil (a good anti-fungal) a couple of times a day, take oil of oregano (another anti-fungal) with water a couple of times a day, take some Swedish Bitters with my food and add in a fiber supplement before bed.  I might treat myself to a cup or two of herbal tea.

I’ll do this for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  At supper time on Saturday I will probably start adding salad and some white meat to my diet.  I will start taking my probiotics also at supper on Saturday, and take them during the next stage 4 times a day to help replace the yeast.

You can find lots of good cleanse ideas here at The Candida Diet.

The Cabbage Soup recipe I will be following is similar to this one.


Christmas Baking 2016 – RAISIN OATMEAL COOKIES


Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11, and Grandmelina to 2!

Yup.  We like our Christmas desserts.  No doubt about it.  Each of the kids (at home) makes a dessert to share at Christmas.  The kids who aren’t home get a tin of our favourite desserts to enjoy too!  And of course, we make a double batch – eat half now, freeze half for Christmas.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until frothy.  Beat in both sugars.  Add the cooking oil and the vanilla.

Dissolve the baking soda in the water, then stir into the mixture.

Add the oats, the flour and the salt.  Stir well.  Add in the raisins and stir well again.  Drop by spoonfuls onto greased or parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350°F  oven for 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Variations:  leave out the raisins;  spice them up with 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. allspice;  add 1/2 nuts.


Check out my other Christmas dessert recipes:











TOURTIERE (savoury meat pie for main course)





Christmas Baking 2016 – COCONUT MACAROONS (Gluten Free)


Coconut Macaroons

Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11, and Grandmelina to 2!

We LOVE coconut.  Some of us are also grain free.  And I love easy and delicious.  So I made some coconut macaroons for my DH and kids today – half to eat now, and half to freeze for Christmas (only 10 days to go!).  The first of my Christmas baking this year.  Well, second if you count the fudge stored away in the freezer.


  • 6 cups (200 g x 3) sweetened coconut
  • 1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.  I made balls of the coconut mixture and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  If you’d rather not get your hands so messy, you can place rounded spoonfuls of the coconut mixture on the parchment lined baking sheets instead.  Bake each batch at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely and remove (I used a metal flipper to facilitate removal).

Want to dress up your macaroons?  Dip the bottoms in melted chocolate.












TOURTIERE – savoury meat pie for main course

Christmas Baking 2016 – EASY MICROWAVE FUDGE


Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11, Grandmelina to 2!


For years I’ve been making and selling fudge.  This Christmas I retire.  Already I feel the freedom!

I have really, really enjoyed my customers and the other vendors.  I will miss everyone tremendously, but now is the time for family.  We can only stretch ourselves in so many directions when we realize it’s time to sit back and decide what is most important.  And you never know, I may be back before you know it.

Most of my fudge is based on this recipe and variations of this recipe.  You can add things to it – like caramel pieces and pecans – and make something totally new.  Or add some colour and flavouring – like orange – and you again have made something to tickle your taste buds.

You can check out this post for some flavour ideas.

But first you start with the basics.

I like to use Merckens chocolate flavoured wafers.  It sets nicely as fudge.  I’ve recently used another brand that just won’t set as fudge – but still tastes great.  You can also try your favourite chocolate chips.  Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk also tastes better than some of the other brands.

Oh yes, it is also GLUTEN FREE (check your individual ingredients to make sure they are gluten free).

This is a great addition to every Christmas dessert platter and will bring many little moans of enjoyment.



Makes a 9×9 inch pan.  Double for a 9×13 inch pan.

  • 1 pound of chocolate or vanilla flavoured wafers
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • butter or oil spray
  • aluminum foil
  • 9×9 inch pan


First, prepare your pan.  Line your pan with aluminum foil.  Next, grease the aluminum foil in your pan with butter or spray with oil spray.  Make sure it is well covered in grease so that your fudge will remove easily

Using a glass bowl, melt your chocolate or vanilla flavoured wafers in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each 20 seconds until it is all melted.  If some lumps remain, don’t worry – just proceed with the recipe.  After it is well stirred, add in your sweetened condensed milk and stir well.  You will notice that the fudge thickens as you stir.  After the sweetened condensed milk is completely stirred in, you are ready to pour your fudge into your prepared pan.  Allow to set overnight or for several hours.

Remove your fudge from the pan and remove the aluminum foil.  Cut into 1 inch pieces and enjoy!

note:  You may also want to freeze your fudge to enjoy later.   After your fudge has set,  your can wrap the fudge in large pieces or wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap, put in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.





Hi!  I’m Melina, homeschooling mother of 11 and Grandmelina to 2!



Today our family will light our first Advent candle – a purple one.  This candle signifies hope.

As it says in Romans 15:12-13

12 And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
    one who will arise to rule over the nations;
    in him the Gentiles will hope.”[a]

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Every year we light our Advent candles.  Each night at supper we will light the candle while we sing our Advent song.  Then we blow them out so the candles last the whole season.  You can listen to the first verse here.

Advent Song

First verse:  

Light the Advent candle one
Now the waiting has begun
We have started on our way
Time to think of Christmas Day
Candle, candle burning bright
Shining in the cold winter’s night
Candle, candle burning bright
Fill our hearts with Christmas light 
You can look up some of our other Advent traditions in these posts:
Does your family celebrate Advent in a similar way, or do you have other traditions?