Friday, November 23, 2007
Life with our little boys has been a gift. They are wonderful little creatures who have enriched our lives in so many ways. But it has also been a challenge finding balance and harmony between the lives we knew before they arrived and after. They are less than 2 years apart, and it was an adjustment to say the least. Establishing routines has finally started to produce some positive results, and the fact that our little one goes to sleep early and independently, has made a difference of immeasurable proportions. Now that our baby is approaching the age of two, we are finding ourselves with more time to breathe again. More time to think. More time to catch up on things.
Most of the catching up has been just getting organized around the house. It feels so nice to do that for a change and leaves us with some nights now to watch a movie together or read a book. Some nights we just catch up on conversation- adult conversation! During this period of new found freedom (limited doses of it, of course), I have rediscovered much.
Not only did I rediscover my trusty sewing machine, but also my love of creative and beautiful things which don’t directly involve me as a mom, wife or career person. I uncovered more than just my ‘stuff’ in the basement. I uncovered my old interests and I discovered me again.
Although I would never have the confidence to call myself an artist, I love being creative and always have. I love the endless possibilities that I feel when I stare at a blank piece of paper, or a small scrap of fabric. I love shapes & colours. I love fabrics and yarns. I can spend hours flipping through a magazine or art book reveling at what creative minds can achieve. Music and art are where my heart has always been. That outlet has been missing in my life for quite awhile now, but I’m happy to say rediscovered. I am not exactly sure where it will take me yet. But for right now, the possibilities are endless and lifting.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
This year, I overcame my usual politeness and expressed my appreciation for leftovers. Especially after tasting her phenomenal ham. As I puttered around the kitchen after dinner, trying to help tidy things up, I finally came right out and asked her what she was planning on doing with them all. I felt slightly rude, but I did it in the most delicate way (and all the while knowing she is not a fan of leftovers and they usually get tossed in the bin-gasp!)
Of course she was thrilled to pack up over 2 pounds of her thinly sliced ham and a small package of turkey meat.
Where Glen's family is not quite fond of leftovers or the reincarnation of foods, my family is. I remember my mother making scalloped potatoes with ham, turkey turnovers, hot turkey sandwiches and more. I actually liked those dishes more than the turkey dinners themselves. In our house, nothing was ever tossed away. It usually just morphed into something even better.
I meant to make some dinners with the leftovers the week following our Thanksgiving dinner, but it was a hectic time so I just froze my goodie bag. Until this weekend, that is.
I turned to Nigella Lawson's Feast with the vague memory of Pasta with ham and peas. I found it in the Kids' Feast chapter and got busy.
It was possibly the easiest pasta dish ever. It was creamy and delicious and the smoky ham was perfect in it. The recipe is here.
I made a huge bowl of salad to go with the pasta. It was kind of like an antipasto platter thrown in a bowl with red leaf lettuce. I picked up some Genoa Salami from the Italian deli and had it cut in one thick slice, about half an inch thick. I cut it into cubes and added it to the bowl with some cubed caciocavallo cheese, white kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and made a red wine vinaigrette. Yum.
I still have turkey in the freezer and this Thanksgiving may just keep giving and giving.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Now, this one is probably best suited as a dessert later in the day, but we decided to have the Donut French Toast for brunch one weekend too. The recipe is here and I urge you to try this one at any time of the day.
My cookbook holder. This was a gift from my mother in law, and I love it mostly because of the page holders.
These colorful little dessert plates were a find at Home Sense. I love that they are all different, and meant to be slightly bumpy and irregular.
I didn't have to look too far or deep into cabinets to find my favorite things. It seems I keep them mostly where I can see them which makes perfect sense.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I dived into the book and read it cover to cover. I loved the format, even though the principles have been done probably since the beginning of time. All parents at one time or another try to hide vegetables during phases when their little ones boycot them. But the presentation was great. Pretty drawings, helpful strategies and tips, and great ideas I never thought of. I set out on a mission and started to puree.I began with sweet potatoes, butternut squash and cauliflower. It didn't really take that long and it made sense to do a few at one time while I had all the equipment out. I made the mozzarella sticks (with cauliflower), and they were devoured so quickly by everyone that I didn't get a photo. I then moved on to a banana bread (also with cauliflower) which wasn't as successful. In fact, as soon as I took it out of the oven, the cauliflower smell overpowered the usual sweet and pleasant banana smell. I anticipated a small problem.
Camden occasionally has breakfast with his older cousin Madeleine at my sister's house and on one particular day I sent some over for them. It all came back in a tupperware, barely touched. Hmmm. I then sent a huge piece over to my other sister's house for James and his little cousin, Mia. My sister called and said they both spit it out. Now, this was surprising considering these two adore their vegetables. I went home and attempted to try it myself. I opened up the container and the smell had actually become so overpowering at this point, I couldn't even manage one bite. I actually felt guilty for trying to make the kids injest this one.
On a more positive note, I also made the Frozen yogurt popsicles. I pureed some mixed berries with plain yogurt and some powdered sugar, popped them in the deep freeze for a few hours and unmolded them for an after dinner treat. These were much more warmly received than the banana bread. They were delicious and I will try them again with some different fruits.
There are a few more recipes I have tagged to try soon. I plan on using the butternut squash and sweet potato for the chicken nuggets and turkey burgers soon. I have concluded though that banana bread is good enough on its' own and the addition of cauliflower is just not right. I think the kids will be happy with that.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Normally I wouldn't have time for that either- all the chopping of carrots, celery, peppers and onions, that is. But I turned to Nigella Express and tried her recipe for Quick Chili. I was not expecting much to be perfectly honest. With a bottle of tomato pasta sauce, some Heintz sweet chili sauce and some spices, what could I expect? I was pleasantly surprised. It wouldn't replace my regular chili recipe on a weekend, but it makes a great midweek supper if you're in a rush. Here it is over some rice and with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.
The night before, I had some extra time and was inspired to finally try Laurie Colwin's recipe for Gingerbread from the book Home Cooking. Gingerbread is a sacred entity in our house, and I've been happy with my mother in laws version for years. Norma's gingerbread is a loaf, and quite a dense one too. But it is spicy and moist and layered with a thick blanket of icing and a single glace cherry. You can pick it up and eat it with your hands. It's pretty good. But Laurie Colwin is quite convincing and her version beckoned me to try it.
Above is a nice thick slice which is really different than Norma's version. It was more cakey and light, but still had all the spiciness we love. I topped it with her lemon icing and had a slice almost every night this week. It's so good that I might even be brave enough to serve it to my Scottish gingerbread loving in laws. Imagine that!