Monday, 30 April 2012

The Business of Blogging

I am going into business.....for myself.  The business of blogging.  It seems so strange after all the school'n I have had, the subjects I have studied, that this is what sticks.

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting a whole lot lately.  This will change soon.  I am currently working behind the scenes-  a new domain, some technical difficulties and some food photography schoolin'.....getting closer to a brand new me....well not me but here.

This venture, this goal, needed support from Big Daddy and so The Talk happened.  You know The Talk? Where we discuss our goals.  I say 'our' because nothing is a just me venture when you're married with kids.  As serious as I have wanted to be about getting this space up and rolling regularly, time has been really limited.  See, there is one compromise I am never willing to make.  My dedication to healthy real foods and parenting is not just something to write about but how I live.  So if being here and writing about it means that I won't have the time to practise what I preach than you won't see me here.

So a conversation was had because although those are my standards, my husband and I aren't bookends, thank god!, so of course he has his own list of values/standards that must be met.  So how can we make sure that it is all happening, for everyone? A question for all ages and something that all families struggle with......right?

Our lives and schedules have made it so what writing I did get done was late at night.  There just wasn't time until after the kids went to bed and the house was 'prepared' for the next day.  This meant that I had a whole 'other' work day once everyone else had stopped.  Truth is, the stress of it all was making it not fun and why do it if you're not having fun?

But you know.....The Talk was a reminder of what a great guy I am married to.  At first he was a little resistant but once I made it clear that all I was asking for was some adult/grown up using her brain for an uninterrupted stretch of time and not criticising him for the fact that he hadn't been giving me any of this time in the past (why do guys do that?), he was pretty open to hearing what I needed/wanted.

So soon I will have a couple of hours carved out of our insane day that I can call my own....for me and my tiny brain to make up words and think of food and find the part of me that has been all but lost under the Mummy. Huzzah I say Huzzah!!

Friday, 27 April 2012

54 Momths and 4 1/2 years

Dear Bedo and Gabes,

Another busy month!!

We had Unka Terry play guitar and sing at the school one afternoon.  We went and had a crafty afternoon with Elizabeth and her family.  We also had a surprise weekend visit from cousin Amy who had a business trip up this way and an afternoon at Fantasy Fair with Isabelle and Juliet.  Bea had a special dance party and the Easter Bunny came. We know how to party and have fun in this house!!!

And as always you guys are hilarious...

Bea, you sing a all the time...tonight in bed "I can fly so high, I can fly so high in the sky....soooooo hhiiiigh. I like to singggggg, I really like to sing. I really like to sing all daaayyyy.....ALLL DAAAAYYYYY. I really like to sing but I don't like yooooouuuuuuu"

Bea climbed into bed with me, buried her head in my armpit, took a deep breath, sighed happily and said "Mmmmm you smell like Mummy"

Bea you like to help clean, especially vacuum. There was urgent yelling for help at one point and we lost most of a roll of toilet paper as it spun wildly getting sucked into the vacuum. Admittedly we lost most of it while I was laughing at watching you trying to stop the stream.
He insists on dressing himself and swears he likes them like this

Gabe "When someone dies they don't eat ice cream anymore.....they have to eat breakfast all day long forever"

I recorded 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' for them. When I put it on you watched it quietly for about 5 minutes until you got upset and started to cry. "Gabe whats wrong"? in tears "But where are the MEATBALLS"??

Off to crafting - time to get serious

My lunch date

Loves to ride the bus

Keepin the ride clean

Blueberry muffin face

Bea's dance party showcase

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Healthier Pot du Creme with Raspberries

So I have this friend right....and he is kinda amazing at what he does.  He truly is one of the few people I now personally that I can learn endlessly from about food and I love chatting food over a good bottle of wine.  We come at food from very different places.  As you know, mine is a place of whole real foods, sustainability, health and family friendly.  His is more a place of indulgence and perfection....which I'll tell yah....I have NO problem with visiting this place.....

Well this dear friend and I try to get together for a meal every couple of months if life permits and on a rare occasion we cook for each other.  On one of these rare occasions he made me dinner and this dessert.  It was a recipe he had been developing for the magazine so at the time it was all hush hush and I got to be a guinea pig.  It is very good.....and not just guinea pig good but plain ol'pig good!!  But like anything I want to eat again and again, I have to find a way that I can do that with my standards and practices/checks and balances. So I totally ripped off his idea and made it my own......hopefully in a way that can make him a little proud and maybe want to try mine

Potted Yum with Raspberries
makes 4 8oz cups so I recommend doubling the recipe because it is really only enough for 1 person....:-)
1 tbsp Gelatin (buy plain unflavoured)
1/4 cup cool water
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups homemade almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp honey

1 1/2 cups raspberries
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp water

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the water and set aside.  Combine cream, almond milk, vanilla and honey in a sauce pan over medium heat until just starting to simmer and the sugar is dissolved.  Pour warm milk mixture into the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Divide between the four glasses, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 6 hours.

For the topping, combine 1/2 cup of raspberries with the sugar and water in a small bowl. Mash the raspberries with a fork and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Toss with the remaining whole raspberries and top when ready to serve.

Try not to lick the cup

I know Christopher, terrible picture

Monday, 16 April 2012

Lemon Trickle Mash Potato Cake

I have been feeling deflated today.  Low energy, generally short fuzed and run down.  As of this past Thursday I have been sick for 4 weeks.  Not deathly ill the whole time but not well.  I thought earlier this week it was a matter of a couple of days and it would be completely gone, but for maybe a slight cough when Big Daddy announced that he feel like he was fighting something and both kids started up nasty runny noses.  I could feel my body falter, stumble and not have the strength yet to fight something new.  So this morning I wake to the dry mouth sand paper tongue of someone who has been breathing through their mouths for most of the night.  My nose blowing has turned a sickly green again and I give up. I just don't have the where with all to see daily life through knowing that this is temporary and it will be only a matter of time before I will be well again.  I almost feel like I don't remember what feeling good feels like.

I know I am just being dramatic but I am starting to take it all personally.  I don't have the time to be running at 20%......not for WEEKS!  It reeks havoc on every aspect of my life.  Everything is behind, or more behind than usual. Everything gets neglected and I get increasingly angry.  Shitty I know but I HAVE HAD ENOUGH ALREADY!

One thing that tends to happen when I am not on the ball is an enormous amount of food gets wasted which not only drives me crazy but we can't afford.  When I cook I tend to cook for more than one meal at a time.  I already know what I am going to do with the left overs before the meal that has the leftovers to use.  Nothing gets wasted.  All bones from all roasts are saved for soup bones, left over veg goes into these soups, meat scraps become stir catch my drift.  There are also some interesting ways to use left over that I bet you would never think of like the delicious cake I make from left over mash potatoes and the ground up almonds from making almond milk

Left Over Mash Potato Cake
Preheat 350
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup plain, cold mashed potato
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 Lemons, juiced
  • 5 tbsp sugar 
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
Butter and line a springform cake tin.  Beat butter and sugar unitl light, pale and fluffy.  Add and beat in eggs one at a time adding a tbsp of ground almonds with each egg.  This stops the mixture from curding.  Add the baking powder and remaining ground almonds.  Fold into the mixture the mash potatoes and lemon zest.  Pour into cake pan and bake 30-40 mins or until knife comes out clean.  If the top is browning too much cover with sheet of parchment.

When finished baking remove from oven and let cool.  When cool, combine the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.  With the point end of a knife poke a bunch of holes into the top of the cake but without reaching the bottom of the cake.  Pour the lemon juice and sugar mixture evenly over the top of the cake.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

This is an incredibly dense lemony cake that's not rich or creamy so be generous with the whip cream.  It is a winter cake if that make sense

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bad Colds, Flus and Bone Broth

Yes and my plight continues......I am still sick.  For those of you counting I am into week four.  It seems insane to me but here I am and for the most part I have done all the right things.  I say for the most part because I am sure I should be and should've been getting a lot more rest and sleep but as those of you with children will know....that just ain't gunna happen.  I tried, laying down as soon as Big Daddy came home from work, sleeping some, mostly reading and completely brain dead.  I just happened to have a doctors appointment this past week and he gave me a good once over.  No infections but he thinks I probably had 'the flu'.  I think I agree with him based on the fact that I had a certain kind of body exhaustion that I have never had before.  I have never had the flu before, as far as I know.  I also don't recall being sick with a 'cold' for more than a week to 10 days.  Sure I have had a cough that lasted for a month after being sick but this hasn't been a lingering cough (I do have that as well). This has been never ending exhaustion, muscles aches, head aches, sinuses so full my eye sight has been compromised, sore eyes, clogged ears, lack of appetite, lingering pink eye, and a hacking wet cough. As of Thursday this week it will have been a month since the day I said "I feel like I am coming down with something" My famous last words......

Now I am still blowing my nose, my ears pop and I am coughing.  My energy is still pretty low but I am able to get a few things done every day which is really nice for someone who loves to cross things off the list of 'to dos'.  But one of the first things I am going to do when my energy has completely returned is to restock the freezer with life saving bone broth.

Here are some facts about real bone broth/stock

  1. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
  2. Fish stock made with fish heads and carcasses provide iodine and thyroid-strengthening substances.
  3. When broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin.  Gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Historically, gelatin has been found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk.
  4. Gelatin, when ingested, pulls toxins out of the body and helps to clear illnesses. It also helps to heal the body and can reduce allergies.
    So why don't people make broth/stock anymore?  It is a pain in the ass mostly but what most people don't realize is that what replaced it in our diet is incredibly bad for us.  After the Second World War, food companies discovered monosodium glutamate (MSG), a food ingredient the Japanese had invented in 1908 to enhance food flavors. Humans actually have receptors on the tongue for glutamate. It is the protein in food that the human body recognizes as meat.  Any protein can be hydrolyzed to produce a base containing free glutamic acid or MSG. When the industry learned how to make the flavor of meat in the laboratory, the door was opened to a flood of new products including bouillon cubes, dehydrated soup mixes, sauce mixes, TV dinners and condiments with a meaty taste.

    Prepared foods, canned soups and stews contain MSG, often found in ingredients called hydrolyzed porteins. The fast food industry could not exist without MSG, tricking the taste buds into eating bland, tasteless, and nutrient poor 'food'.

    When homemade stocks were pushed out and the thickening effects of gelatin could be mimicked with emulsifiers - an important source of minerals disappeared and the health benefits were lost.  More serious, however, are the problems posed by MSG. In 1957, scientists found that mice became blind and obese when MSG was administered by feeding tube. In 1969, MSG-induced lesions were found in the hypothalamus region of the brain. Other studies all point in the same direction--MSG is a neurotoxic substance that causes a wide range of reactions, from temporary headaches to permanent brain damage.

    So how do you make wonderful good for you broth/stock??  You have come to the right place.  In this post I will cover beef stock

    Beef Stock/Bone Broth
    7-8 pounds of beef bones (including marrow, knuckle and meaty bones)
    4 or more quarts cold filtered water
    1/2 cup vinegar
    3 onions, coarsely chopped
    3 carrots, coarsely chopped
    3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
    several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
    l bunch parsley

    Start by roasting and browning up your meaty bones. Place them in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven.  This adds flavour and colour.  Now add your now browned bones in to your stock pot with the rest of your bones, water and vinegar. Let this sit for an hour.  Meanwhile, pour off the extra fat from the roasting pan and deglaze with fresh water, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add this to your pot along with the vegetables and bring to a boil.  A large amount of scum will come to the top, skim this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme.

    Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn't even smell particularly good. But don't despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth.

    Remove bones and strain stock into a large bowl or pot.  Let this cool and then refrigerate.  Doing this will let the fat rise to the top and congeal making it easy to remove.

    So I have been sipping my cold/flu away with cups of bone broth, and avoiding sugar and wheat and a few batches of soup. This most recent time I used some of the broth to make French Onion soup.  But I will save that recipe for a later date.

    Sunday, 1 April 2012

    Table for 5

    Life seems to have started going at a mach speed lately. It's funny the way memory and brains work. The twins will be 4 1/2 soon and I can't figure out how they got so old, but I also can't remember life without them.  It feels like it is almost everyday that Big Daddy and I are sitting down to go over the months schedule and figure out how we are 'going to do it'...the endless appointments, play dates, hockey games, birthday parties, dinners and house guests.  Truth is, I am not sure how we 'do it' and get all the stuff done that is important to us ie homemade everything (pretty much).

    I love being this busy and really believe that if you want something done, ask a busy person. I thrive on having a list of tasks and love one by one crossing them off. I don't mind being over booked and most of the time I am more efficient and capable of getting it done because I am so busy.  I have a very hard time getting motivated if there isn't much to do and generally then get none of it done.  That being said....I fiercely guard my 'mental health' time....which I feel like I get very little of (that clears up some stuff doesn't?).  It isn't that hard to get cooking, cleaning, or 'busy' work done but I don't have enough time for the sit down and write, think, veg, read or tune out stuff and I probably don't give myself a lot of permission for it either.....there is too much to do!! I can feel my attitude change and my ability to be grateful leave when I don't get down time.  The last year with the twins, starting shortly after they turn three, things started to lighten up here.  Big Daddy and I started to be able to claim back some time for ourselves....this is VERY important to two 'only child' poster children....we really need time to ourselves and even before having children would often spend quiet evenings in separate rooms giving each other much needed space. I think we have out-grown this a little bit or at least learned to survive with less......?

    So then there is this....with all (I am being facetious) this freedom and these 'only child' parents finally getting back the time we need to be sane why oh why are we considering having another baby?  It just doesn't make sense!!.  I am no spring chicken, I will be well into 40 before it could arrive, so if we are going to do it, it better be soon and then there is the fact that the twins are getting older and older and how much of a brother/sister connect is this little one ever going to get to have with siblings that are over 5 years older?  And finances...can we even afford another?

    But with all these reasons not to......I still have this overwhelming feeling that someone is missing.  I have always known I would have 3 kids and that our family table is for at least 5..... there is suppose to be another little soul here, and I miss them every day that they aren't. Just the idea of not having another child, as sane a choice as it is, makes me weep for what wasn't, what isn't and what was suppose to be and I know I will always regret not trying.  And yet even though I know I will never regret having another.....logistically I don't know how we would do it.  There are just so many people with needs in this house I worry that they wouldn't all be getting met.... and let's be honest - especially mine! (I don't say this out of selfishness but because moms are always the first to sacrifice)

    It is nice to know that other families are struggling with the same decision and that I am not just some crazy loonie but I need some plain old logical advice.  What should we do?  What would you do? How do 'out numbered' parents do it?