Friday, 27 January 2012

snowball + avalanche = 'the sky is falling the sky is falling'

Do you remember this post about snowballs and avalanches?? Or more to it, the fact that one can become the other.....well maybe I am a little psychic (please pronounce it  'Pah-sigh-kick) because it is exactly what happened....can of worms....le sigh

Yes the article I was interviewed for went 'live' this week and like all things parenting - everyone served up passionate feelings....and then ordered more

Here it is
Immunizations - What's all the fuss?

I was surprisingly cooled out about the whole thing.  I wasn't as bothered as everyone assumed I would be and thought I should be.  Maybe I should have gotten all fired up? Maybe I am just too busy these day.... maybe and am trying to conserve my energy.  I only finally made a comment when someone started taking personal potshots at me in their comment.....someone who must know me personally (I have an idea...ugg) all seemed so stupid and what they wrote even stupider (that's not a word...I know mom) I tried to leave the 'edge' at home.  Tried not to get nasty or rude....I mean what is ever gained from that?....and just addressed what I felt should be and clear up what I felt was missing from the piece.  The thing is that this might have all worked out for the best.  Because as a result of my comment the author emailed me inviting me to write a follow up piece better explaining the stance of those who forgo vaccines.  Considering the controversy and the passion in the comments I think it was a really classy thing to do.  I have to give her huge kudos.  Considering that she took more than a few bullets in the comments she has stepped out, rising above all of us. I love surprises...especially when people surprise me with good things.  Stay tuned for the next installment of 'The Days of our 'HUGE PARENTING EGOS'


Dear Twin A and Twin B,

51 months eh?  Almost 51 newsletters and I don't think I have expressed enough how much I feel honoured to be your mom.  You guys are really the most amazing little weirdos a mom could ever ask for.

This month was busy for me but pretty tame for you guys.  I got a 'big' writing gig and spent days working on it, we spent a night up in Barrie so I could be at a photo shoot for the new website (Feast when it launches) and it was baby shower time for Meaghan so I was knitting my fingers to the bone.

One of the big challenges was where Christmas break fell in the holidays this year.  The last day of school was the 23rd and then you didn't return to school until a week into the New Year.  For some reason this second week was absolute torture.  The weather sucked and any family fun attractions were so packed that I just couldn't bring myself to take you guys on my own (Big Daddy was working the whole time) So instead we went crazy.

On day Bea told me she wanted to 'get married'. I asked her if she knew what 'getting married' meant. She said 'no but I know that ladies get 'married' and boys get 'carried''

Gabe caught playing with my phone

I am trying to add for videos to this but it won't let me

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

More Chicken Curry - Chicken do-Piaza

I love curry.....I love curry....I love curry!!! I love everything about curry.  I have mentioned in the past posts that I got the ultimate Indian cook book and I have been slowly working my way through it.

I have to admit that although all the recipes from this book have been amazing, this one was not one of my favourite.  The whole spices are left in the sauce and as a result you are picking them out as you eat.  I also found the sauce to be a bit flat and I ended up adding a cup or two of thick yogurt and a couple of tbsp of ground almonds to richen (I know thats not a word)it up.  I still recommend it but it wasn't my favourite style of curry

2 1/2 lbs chicken pieces, skin removed
1 lg onion, coarsely chopped
1 inch cube of root ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 tbsps cooking oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder
1 small can of tomatoes
3/4 cup warm water
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamoms, split open on the top
4 whole cloves
2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
1 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
2 level tbsps ghee or unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

    Cut each chicken breast into 3 pieces.  If you are using legs, separate leg from thigh.  wash and dry on paper towel

    Place the chopped onion, ginger and garlic in blender or food processor and puree to a smooth paste, add a little water if necessary to help the blades movement

    Heat the oil over medium heat and add the blended ingredients.  Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes

    Add turmeric, coriander, cumin and chili powder.  fry for 4-5 minutes stirring frequently.  During this time, from the can of tomatoes, add 1 tbsp of juice at a time to prevent the spices from sticking to the pan.  When you have used up all the tomato juice , add the chicken and fry it over medium-high heat until the chicken has changed colour.

    Add the water, cinnamon, cardomom, cloves, bay leaves, salt and the whole tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender and the sauce is fairly thick (about 25 minutes) Cook uncovered, if necessary, to thicken the sauce.

    Heat the ghee or butter and fry the slices onion for 5 minutes. Add the onions along with the ghee to the chicken.  Remove from heat and stir in the coriander leaves.

    I served it with savory rice and raita

    With some yogurt and ground almonds added

    Adult serving

    Kid serving - I made sure all the whole spices were removed and chopped up the chicken a bit.  I also put the Raita right on top so they got cool yogurt with every spicy bit

    Monday, 23 January 2012


    I am tired.  I am not having a good week and it is making me tired.  Being a mom is the best and hardest thing I have ever done but it is particularly hard when there are other challenges in your life that are using up all you have in patience and energy.  I am trying to pull out every stop for them, making sure I never take out my day on them but there is little left for me when they are in bed for the night.

    And there is no renewed energy from this weather......grey grey grey....rain and grey.....only making getting out of bed harder and smiles not as fast to come.  I can only hope that the clip that my life has chosen to travel at these days makes the hardest months of winter fly by.  I try to remember that I always hate this time of year, always fall into a funk and always pull through.

    There is another volunteer position that I really want to take but I am unsure if I really have enough hours in my day to even consider it.  Between mom'ing it, running the house, parent council, the work I do with TPOMBA, the monthly recipe column, writing and cooking here and writing and cooking for FEAST (the soon to be launched new Canadian Parenting website coming in feb, get excited!!) I am worried how I am going to keep it all together. The twins have decided that naps are for suckers recently so those hours during the day are gone and their time at school is so short it is but a blip before it is over. I am struggling to find time.....just time! to do all the things that are important to me.....and then maybe just maybe eek out a little time for me in there too.....if I dig around on this desk somewhere there is a groupon I bought for 10 yoga classes.........but if I start getting stressed about finding the time to go to yoga....the more I am going to need the yoga.....but maybe that's a good start.

    Wednesday, 18 January 2012

    Work to do

    There is so much work to do but I must, I must get over this cold first.  I haven't been terribly sick but enough that it has been a great inconvenience to my already tight schedule.  The only one perverse pleasure I have been getting from it is that it is a sneezey cold and I LOVE to sneeze.  I don't hold it in and make a point of really enjoying them

    The rest of this week is jammed with back to back deadlines, meetings, travel and appointments.  I have got to get my crap together.

    So I will leave you with cuteness....

    My seal pup

    The spoils of helping me bake a cheesecake

    The coppers protecting me from 'naughty monsters'
    Because every day these guys remind me that anything is possible

    Tuesday, 17 January 2012

    C is for Cookie and Cookie Pig

    That movie 'Yes Man' was on the other night.  It is a ok'ish movie.  It is Jim Carrey doing his best kind of 'Jim Carrey' and Zooey Deschanel doing her best 'Zooey Deschanel' which is always charming.  It was good enough for me to sit through it and I don't waste my time on much.

    Anyway the point of this long convoluted film review is---I liked the whole 'say yes to everything' concept.  As you can see from past New Years resolutions that I am big on saying 'yes'.  Some of the wonderful things of my life are because I said yes and didn't duck away in fear or laziness....have I ever mentioned how much I loath when decisions are made based on laziness? Fear I understand but laziness is just...well....lazy.

    On a very small scale I said 'yes' to a challenge last night.  I have a very pregnant friend (hi Megsxo) who was craving a cookie, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, I use to make before the need to go gluten free and who am I to deny her her pregnant fix??  The problem was I didn't have a gluten free recipe for the same cookie and I am no schmo that is going to bake a batch of cookies that I can't eat.

    So I pulled out the old recipe and started doing some homework....After a bunch of complicated math equations, firming up my knowledge of chemistry, and a degree in Astrophysics this is what I came up with. I had no idea how it was going to turn out before baking them.....I like cookies that are crisp on the outside but have a chewy centre

    Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Preheat 350
    Makes 25-30 medium size cookies
    1 cup butter, soft
    1 cup brown sugar, packed
    1 cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tsps vanilla extract
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp instant coffee
    1/2 tsp xanthan gum
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 cups rolled oats
    Chocolate Chips!!!

    Flour Blend
    1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
    1/3 cup potato starch
    1/3 cup tapioca starch
    1/4 cup oat flour (rolled oats blended in food processor until flour-like)

    In a mixer or by hand (hope you have some endurance strength in your arms) cream together the butter and the two sugars until completely combined.  Add the 2 eggs and vanilla and make sure they are creamed in.

    In another bowl combine the flour mix, rolled oats, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and instant coffee.

    On a slow speed slowly add the dry to the wet until a cookie dough has formed.  At this point it is up to you the quantity of chocolate chips you want to use.  I find most recipes call for entirely too much making it insufferably sweet.  But I'm not the chocolate fan that most people are.  I used semi-sweet chocolate chip and for this recipe I would recommend them.  The dough is pretty sweet, I could've used dark chocolate.

    Plop blobs of dough on cookie sheet.  Bake until the edges are brown and crisp.  If you like really crisp cookie bake until they are completely light brown.  Be careful transferring them to the cooling rack when they are hot.  The fall apart easily at this stage but once they have cooled a little they stay together fine.

    I dare you to eat just one....preggy ate four even though she will claim it was 2 or 3. These turned out so much better than I could have imagined.  I really thought this would be a work in progress through a few batches but this was totally nailed the first time.  One of the nice perks of this recipe over the original is the lack of heaviness.  When you ate some of the original recipe cookies we would all get heart burn....?? Seemed weird to me.....if you have to be gluten free or not, 'C IS for cookie' or in this case 'C is for Pig'

    Sunday, 15 January 2012

    Perfect Roast Beef and how Mario Batali is my new bestie

    I am not the 'meat and patadoes' eater that Big Daddy or my stepdad are but I LERV a good roast beef on occasion.  Roast to a perfect medium rare and served au jus with hot horseradish.

    For a family event over the holidays I had reason to make not one but two roasts for an evening with a large group.  Parties with large groups can be stressful at the best of times so I love the fact that this can be done earlier in the day and be left in the oven for hours while you get all the other little stuff done.

    Now because I refused to buy garbage hormone antibiotic filled meat, I usually have to compromise on cut of meat because of sheer price.  I, regrettably, forget the exact cut of these roasts but I will tell you that they aren't fancy at all. They were a round roast or something similar but they were not a POT roast.  I always try to get roasts with a lot of fat marbled through the roast.  The more fat the harder it is to fuck it up, the more flavourful and tender the meat.  Don't think that you need to spend a million dollars to have a beautiful roast.

    This is what I did....this time.

    Preheat oven 200-225 degrees
    One thing you are going to need is a really good meat thermometer.

    I rubbed the outside of the roast with a really good dijon mustard and salt and peppered it well.  I like using a slightly coarser salt, not table salt and not pickling salt but one that you can find that is in between.Then I tucked stocks of rosemary in and around the roast
    *tip - If you can't find a medium grind salt buy a coarse salt and grind it up in your mortar and pestle until it is the consistency you are looking for.

    The reason for cooking it at such a low heat is to render the fat and gently cook it but to not cook it too quickly.  This keeps it tender. At a higher temperature the outside is going to heat and cook first before the inside even gets warm so often the outside is well done while in the inside is still bloody.  At the lower heat no part of it cooks too fast or overcooks and if you monitor the temperature well you can have a roast that is cooked the way you like from side to side, end to end.  I try to check the internal temperature every 30 mins (ish) after the first 2 hours.

    Another thing that people tend to forget is to let the roast rest.  And the roast will continue to cook while it is resting so it is important to remove the roast from the oven when it is somewhere from 5-10 degrees LESS than you want it to be cooked.

    Here are the internal temperatures for the different levels of doneness.  Once you remove the roast, cover it with tin foil and leave it for 10 minutes before carving.  This allows the juices that have all collected near the surface of the meat to redistribute and for it to finish cooking.

                                                      Rare                Medium Rare         Medium              Medium-Well

    Beef Roast        

    Then enjoy -
    Mine is a perfect medium rare

    Now I don't think I need to point out the series of small holes through the surface of the meat.  I had NEVER seen this before and started to I did what any average amateur 'chef' does....tweeted an expert.  Yes I tweeted Chef Mario Batali the same picture.....wouldn't you??  And very quickly I got a response...from the chef himself!! Cause that's how I roll Bee-atches....This is the response I got

    "@lifeastudy Never seen this hmmm. Call store and ask"

    Geez thanks Chef.......

    Other Mario Batali Twitter followers were quick to answer my question

    "@Mariobatali @LifeaStudy mechanically tenderized. Ive seen this done on less desirable cuts sold as something else."

    "That's fm a blade tenderizer RT @Mariobatali @LifeaStudy"

     "@Mariobatali @LifeaStudy Jaccarding gone crazy?"

     "@Mariobatali @LifeaStudy looks tenderized to me."

    Besides getting my answer, deciding on changing butchers and knowing that the roast was edible and not full of now slowly roasted over a low heat worms, I finally realized the allure of Twitter!  A friend once recommended Hoot Suite to manage all my fab hawt social media skillz but I found it all soooo overwhelmingly eye rolling but with her advice ringing through my head (xo Selena) I decided to make a go of it and now I am tweeting through Hoot Suite....which makes me wonder....does that mean I am 'Tooting'??

    Wednesday, 11 January 2012

    School's back in...back to lernin'

    We are now three days back into the school routine and it is already a fight to get them dressed in the morning.  The kids LERV school but they have no sense of time or urgency.  They are now, at the magical age of 4, more than able to dress themselves but if I was going to rely on that developmental stage to be true, they would never make it to school in time.....they would never make it in time to attend school.  It would be time to pick them up from school by the time the last sock was pulled on properly and shoe on the correct foot.

    So I have come to the conclusion that we leave them to their own devices on the weekends and holidays but on school days I help dress them.  That way a weekend day with backward-inside-out underpants is common and enjoyed and we don't have to worry about dressing weather appropriately for school, which is a considerable concern in the cold Canadian winter (although that isn't true this year with barely below freezing weather)

    I had an interesting school experience lately and would like to share.....

    Recently, I was told by my daughter's teacher that Bea had had a bit of an altercation with one of the other students in the class which ended with Bea pushing the girl.  Now this girl is a friend of ours and we have played with her often.  When I spoke to Bea about it she said that this girl was picking on her which might very well be true....who knows! but that isn't the point.....I make a point of teaching them that they can only control their behavior and if someone is treating them badly to tell the person that they don't like it when they act that way, won't play with them if they do act that way and then walk away.  They understand the concept and I have heard them say it to each other when one isn't being co-operative. I also know that some of this behavior is influenced by another student in the class that Bea thinks is 'super funny' but is really super obnoxious.

    I told Bea that the next morning she was going to apologize or she wasn't going to school.  Making it clear that school is a great gift that is to be respected and if you are going to act disrespectful, you can't go.

    She seemed put out by this but also like any kid, was hoping there was an out.  Maybe Mummy would forget by morning? The next morning we got up, got dressed etc like normal but over breakfast I reminded her what she had to do and then again while we walked to school.  We always line up for Bea's class first and I pointed out the student she needed to speak to.  Bea suddenly got very shy, she is not a shy child, and wouldn't do it.  I told her we would have to go home if she didn't and still holding Gabe's hand I followed her class in as they made their way to her classroom (I was able to drop Gabe off in his class on the way as we walked past it).  Her teacher asked me what was going on and I explained.  Her teacher seemed surprised that I was being so strict about it but also respected what I was doing and let me interrupt the class (briefly) to see the consequences through.  There is nothing like a little embarrassment to push your hand.  Over a quiet sitting in a circle class I crouched down in front of Bea and explained again what she had to do and for the Super Obnoxious influence kid's ears, I explained in some detail about respect and control of your own behavior.  I also said to Bea that this was her last chance or we were going home.  She got up, apologized to her friend and hugged her.  I then hugged her and told her loudly how proud I was and left.

    As I left, her teacher pulled me aside and thanked me for making school a 'reward' for good behavior and that she was surprised by how much I stuck to my guns about the consequences of Bea's behavior.  She said that most parents would've left it to the teacher to deal with the situation and done little to nothing about it.  This surprised me.....the teacher is there is teach my kid....not raise them.  It is my 'job' to reinforce the rules of school and a respect for learning and friendship while they are students AS WELL AS be a Mummy.  If I don't back up their teachers, the teacher will never have control of the room and no one will every learn anything.

    Why do you think parents have gotten so 'soft' on parenting??

    Tuesday, 10 January 2012

    Breakfast This Morning: Why Rice is Good for Every Meal

    The easiest of easy, filling gluten free breakfast -

    I took the left over rice from dinner last nights dinner warmed it up, topped it with a little grated cheddar cheese and a couple of fried eggs.  And I prefer using a gluten free tamari (soy sauce) instead of salt.  Cook time about 5 minutes, filling, great use of left overs and totally delicious

    Sunday, 8 January 2012

    Dinner Last Night - Gluten Free Homemade Pizza

    PIZZA!  It is one of the simple meals that I miss.

    I have tried a few different recipes for gluten free crust and I like this one the best.  It is from Gluten-free girl and the Chef cook book and I really do think it is the best one so far.  It is listed as a cracker recipe in their book but with some very minor changes it is an excellent pizza crust

    The toppings are all mine.  I started making this pizza long before I went 'gluten free' and the combination is a weird combination of two dishes - one being a pizza from il Fornello and the other being a pizza and salad I would often get together at Terroni.

    Crust- Gluten free
    makes two round pizza stone size pizzas or one cookie sheet size

    1 cup corn starch
    3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp corn flour
    3/4 cup potato starch
    3/4 cup sweet rice flour
    1 tbsp xanthan gum
    1 tsp guar gum
    1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1 3/4 cups warm water
    1/4 olive oil
    4 tsp dry active yeast
    corn meal for sprinkling

    Put the warm water, olice oil and yeast in a small bowl. Stir gently and let sit for a minute

    Meanwhile, sift the cornstarch, corn flour, potato starch and sweet rice flour into a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer if you are going to use one)  Add the xanthan gum, guar gum and salt.

    Pour the yeasty water into the dry ingredients.  With mixer on medium, whirl for a few minutes until dough comes together and feels soft and pliable.  Set aside in a warm place and let it rise for 1 hour.

    Start pre-heating the oven to 450 to 500 if you can.  If you have a pizza stone, let it get good and hot.  Gluten Free dough is stickier and not stretchy like regular dough so this kneads (see what I did there) to be rolled out between two pieces of parchment paper.  You can make this as thick or thin as you like.  Transfer to baking sheet or hot pizza stone and let cook until it just starts to brown.  I like to use pastry weights if I am doing a large baking sheet pizza.

    Take out the half cooked crust and dress up in your own pizza stylings.  Here is my favourite combo

    A bunch of herbs, basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme, finely minced and mixed into a few tbsps of Olive oil with 1 garlic clove finely minced and mixed in
    1 bosc pear sliced
    8-10 slices of prosciutto, crisped up in the oven before the crust went in
    A knob of good blue cheese
    Grated mozzarella (I am not including an amount because this really is about preference)
    A couple hand fulls of arugula lightly dressed with a olive oil, balsamic and salt and paper dressing.
    A hand full of toasted walnuts

    Instead of a tomato base I lightly coat the crust with the herby garlicy oil then evenly lay out the prosciutto and pears, crumble the blue cheese evenly over, then the mozza and the walnuts.  Shove this back in the oven and let it get bubbly and the cheese start to brown.

     Eat topped with the arugula 'salad'

    Tuesday, 3 January 2012

    Dear Ovaries

    Dear Ovaries,

    Fuck you!

    Other than during IVF, which I know was rough, I was there, I have been nothing but good to you -  I have spent very few years of my life on birth control, I was never a chemical drug user, and I don't eat hormone disrupting foods.

    In return can you please be nicer to me.  This whole cyst game is painful and rude. I am far too busy to spend days bent over in pain and we can't afford for Big Daddy to take numerous days off work to help me with the kids and escort me (see practically carry me) to the bathroom.

    In return for this I promise to respect you more, remember that you honour me with my femininity and maybe give you a well deserved holiday by getting pregnant again.

    Thank you in advance

    Sunday, 1 January 2012

    Now What? - A New Year

    I have never really been one for resolutions.  I think every year I like to think I am but they are usually all forgotten by the 2nd.  I don't quit them that fast.....I don't start them that fast.

    New year is just a different date to write on cheques really....what year it is is all so ambiguous ....the randomness of when 'we' started counting. In China it is year 4708,4709 or 4648 depending on which calendar you follow.

    One thing I do like about New Year is the general feeling that the whole world is taking a deep breath and looking forward, planning futures....there isn't much dread involved in New Years....unless you buy into the end of the world Mayan calendar....

    Resolutions I do not make...not in the classic sense but I do have plans for the future.

    I would like to (and really you could check my Might Life List too) do a million things but right now, right away I would like to tackle this year with these things in mind

    1. Write more, dedicated times to do it
    2. Find and be 'hired' for more writing gigs
    3. Keep working on getting my health until control
    4. Tackle some more complex or just never thought of before recipes  ie. a friend mentioned homemade Baily's Irish Cream and I would like to do that, or making my own almond milk, homemade Vick's like Vapour Rub and laundry soap, maybe from this recipe from my friend Catherine
    5. Have a bigger and better garden this year
    6. Can MORE tomatoes - I did almost 3 bushels this past fall and there is no way we are going to make it to this years local tomato season forcing me to buy canned tomatoes
    7. Learn some more gluten free baking.  I am a pretty good GF cook but the baking aspect I haven't really touched.  I would like to start baking my own bread (and save big $$$)and always have some muffins on the go
    8. Read more - go to bed early so I have some reading time.  I have been taking a homeopathic sleep aid and I can barely make it through 3 pages of a book before I am out cold.  Although this is a HUGE improvement over 2 hours of reading before I fall asleep, I haven't been reading enough and can feel my brain drying out in my head (Cousin I am still reading your manuscript!!)
    9. Listen to music more, with and without the more
    10. Work on having more patience
    11. Focus more on the 'have' and less on what is missing, pay attention to how we are lucky/blessed and not what we need
    12. Be brave and say yes more (this is one from last new years too and it made a huge difference to my life this year)