31 January 2012

Week in Suppers: Week 4

Menu::Hamburgers, veggies and hummus
Details::We're trying something at home here to give me more writing time. Kevin leaves early on Mondays, comes home to pick up A1 from school and then take the kids to soccer, and then returns to make dinner. Ideally this will give me about three full hours to write. This was the first Monday we tried it so there were a few hiccups including me needing to leave by 6:30 to make a play downtown. Kevin is a good cook, but he's a slow one. Unfortunately, this meant I didn't get in on the hamburgers, but half of one was saved for me when I returned home. (A1 ate the other half of mine.) It was so good. I hope he makes it again soon.

Menu::Snapper, rice, greens
Details::Kevin had a late meeting, but my sister was able to join us. Fish was great. The boys don't like rice for some reason, but they each ate a few bites of it. I couldn't find the cranberries to round out the red chard dish I usually make, so it was a little disappointing, but the chard was devoured. (Mostly by me, but I need the iron!) Lots of rice left over.

Menu::Tuna Melts
Details:: This was my first run clinic night, so Kevin came home early and made dinner for all of us. Tuna melts! So yummy. I wolfed mine down, so I can't report on how the boys ate them, but there were no leftovers. (I did hear A2 complain about the green peppers in the tuna, but that was not a surprise.)

Menu::Beef and bean chilli
Details:: I've been dizzy lately, so I thought I should try to increase my iron intake. Added beef to my usual vegetarian chilli. I had to run off to go a play, so I'm not sure how much was actually eaten, but there weren't any complaints while I was still there.

Details::Wasn't up for making anything when we came home from skating, so burritos with leftover chilli inside it was! A2 doesn't like burritos so was happy with a bowl of chilli. No guac as it was a last-minute plan and the avocados weren't ripe.

Menu::Steak, mashed potatoes, asparagus
Details::3/4 of us were happy. A1 doesn't like steak or mashed potatoes, though he ate more asparagus than I did and managed to eat enough of his steak to make me happy.

Menu::salmon, rice, broccoli
Details::Kevin did this and it was really good. Boys don't like rice, but they ate the rest which is a lot more important, in my opinion!

26 January 2012

A little bit of movement

One thing I've been wanting to do for the last few years was take up running. I've had a lot of excuses to not start, some better than others (being pregnant, Edmonton winters, embarrassed to exercise in public, not knowing what I was doing), but this year was going to be the year (which partly went into my choice for acceleration). I wanted it and, more importantly, I knew I could do it. So when my sister told me she signed up for an introductory run clinic that also included a voucher for a new pair of shoes, I knew I had to follow her lead.

Last night was our first class and it was great. Only fifteen of us and, as a group, there is a wide spectrum of running experience. We did our first run last night. Very basic--one minute run, one minute walk, eight times--but it was so good. We were in the rain along the seawall and I was so happy. Really, really happy. I hope this joy stays with me as the runs get more challenging. (And I hope my ankles don't always hurt the day after. Any advice on that front?)


Have you put your name in the virtual hat for the give-away over at Canlit Mama? Deadline is tomorrow.

23 January 2012

Week in Suppers: Week 3

Menu::Chicken pesto penne with kalamata olives
Details::Not enough vegetables (ahem, any? I'm guessing pesto and olives don't count) and I forgot to cut up carrots and put out the hummus until after we had sat down to eat. We had some applesauce my mom canned in the fall for dessert to sort of make up for the starch heavy meal. Everyone ate it, and three out of four of us had seconds.

Menu:: Black bean loaf and roasted veggies
Details::Basically the same recipe as lentil loaf, but I used black beans. Love the recipe as it's so adaptable and everyone gobbles it up. No leftovers at all this time. Roasted potatoes, carrots, beets and yams. Boys demanded dessert, so we had a jar of cherries I put up in the summer. So good.

Menu::Black bean quesadillas
Details::Had extra beans leftover from making them for Tuesday's meal, but not enough to freeze (I usually make big batches and freeze most of them), so quesadillas it was, with tomatoes, peppers, and cheese inside and salsa, guac and sour cream for toppings. A2 complained again, but he managed to eat about half of one.
Bonus::Made two loaves of chocolate chunk pumpkin bread that day, so we ate a slice each for dessert. Pureed pumpkin frozen from our Halloween jack o'lanterns.

Menu::Beef stew with mashed potatoes and fresh bread.
Details::So good! First meat stew of the season and with the snow on the ground, it was a perfect meal. Stew had loads of carrots and parsnips for veggies.

Menu::home made pizza
Details::Hawaiian this time on a multigrain crust. Crust still not perfect but getting better.

Menu::nothing planned
Details::Kevin took over dinner that night as I was attending a round table discussion on intimate theatre as part of the PuSh Festival. He makes a fantastic Thai seafood curry and I was very happy to return home to that for dinner.

Menu::Chicken breasts
Details::My standby chicken breasts (mustard, honey, garlic, a bit of juice and olive oil) with roasted blue potatoes (discovered at the back of the fridge), carrots and parsnips. No leftovers. We all thought dessert would be a good idea, but I didn't want to open up another jar of preserves, so I found a fast chocolate pudding recipe. To say it was a hit would be a huge understatement. Will be making again.


By request, my lentil loaf recipe (please note that all measurements are approximate):

2 cups cooked lentils (I usually use french lentils or black beans. Can substitute any bean.)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large onion chopped finely
2-4 chopped garlic
2 eggs beaten
1 cup oats (other cooked grains could be substituted, though I haven't done any yet)
1 tbsp Worchestire sauce
1 large squirt/plop of ketchup (or bbq sauce)
1 cup of grated cheddar
salt and pepper
herbs (I usually do about 1tsp each of sage, savoury/thyme, 1 tbsp oregano, but you can figure out what you like best)

1. cook lentils (or beans)**
2. fry up onions and garlic until onions are translucent, then add mushrooms; cook until tender**
3. add all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well
4. dump into a loaf pan, squirt a bit more ketchup on top to look fancy (or don't)
5. bake at 375F for about 45-60 minutes or until it looks done

**these steps can be done ahead of time

This is a bastardized version the lentil loaf recipe that was in We Eat Together a great cookbook that features almost all of my favourite vendors from the Edmonton Downtown Farmers' Market (which I miss incredibly).

22 January 2012

we do not come from solitude

"My mother once told me that when a child is born, threads are tied around the infant's wrists to bind her soul to her body. The soul is a slippery thing. A door slammed too loudly can send it running. A beautiful, shiny object can catch its attention and lure it away. But in darkness, unpursued, the soul, the pralung, can climb back in through an open window, it can be returned to you. We do not come from solitude, my mother told me. Inside us, from the beginning, we were entrusted with many lives. From the first morning to the last, we try to carry them until the end." from Madeleine Thien's Dogs at the Perimeter

19 January 2012

all we'll have left is us

Jay: How far we all come, Mary. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can't even remember where you started or what you had in mind or where you thought you were goin'. All you know is you were headin' some place. One way you do remember. You have a boy or a girl of your own, and now and then you sing to them or hold them, and you know how they feel, and it's almost the same as if you were your old self again. Just think, Mary, my paw used to sing to me. And before my time, even before I was dreamed of in this world, his daddy or his mother used to sing to him, and away back on through the mountains, back past Great-Grandmaw, away on back through the years, right on back to Adam, only nobody ever sang to Adam.

Mary: God did.

Jay: Maybe God did.

Mary: We're supposed to come away from ourselves, Jay. That's the whole point. We're supposed to come away to--

Jay: I know. To God.

Mary: I don't see how you can feel the way you do and not believe in Him.

Jay: We come from people, Mary, and in time they fall away from us, like Great-Granmaw. We give birth to others, and in time they grow away from us, like Ivan will. When we’re about eighty years old, you’n me, all we’ll have left is us. And that’s what I believe in. Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s where we’re heading – to each other. And the sad thing all our lives is the distance between us. But maybe if we keep goin' in the direction we think is right, maybe we can't ever get all the way there, but at least we can make the distance less'n it was.

from Electric Company Theatre's production of Tad Mosel's All the Way Home

18 January 2012

Weeks of Suppers: Weeks 1 & 2

I'm assuming most of you who read this blog also reads Carrie Snyder's Obscure Canlit Mama. It's one of my few daily reads as she writes about so much that really speaks to me--motherhood, writing, spirit, food. If you already read it, you probably know what I'm talking about. If not, start now!

One of her regular posts is This Week in Suppers and Carrie has graciously allowed me to steal this idea. I have been wanting to be better at planning our dinners and to keep a better track of what we eat. I know that I have a few fall-back recipes that we probably eat to often, so it will be good to see it all laid out in front of me.

So, here's what we ate for the first two weeks of January.

Menu::home made pizza
Details::I made a multigrain dough (still trying to perfect it) and the boys went with Kevin to pick out toppings and dressed the pizzas themselves (with a little bit of help). They were delicious.

Menu:: Chicken strips and veggie fries.
Details:: When Kevin isn't home for dinner, this is an easy standby for me. Cut up chicken breasts or thighs, marinate in lemon juice and olive oil, and bake. Baked potato, carrot, and yam fries and garlic mayo for dipping. Every last bite consumed.

Menu::Lentil loaf and roast veggies
Details::Devoured. I think it might be because the lentil loaf is receptacle for ketchup and mustard, but they do eat so much of it, I can't complain. Veggies: potatoes, beets and squash. A1 won't eat squash or roasted potatoes (but has no problem with the fries made the exact same way, but cut differently!) but ate his beets.

Details:: I usually do leftovers on Fridays, but we had a plan to go over to dinner at a friend's house, so I put it in the middle of the week. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough lentil loaf leftover, so I defrosted a jar of turkey stock I made after Thanksgiving and supplemented the meal with noodle soup and hummus with raw veggies. It was a mish-mash of a meal, but it was all eaten.

Menu::Shepherd's Pie
Details::Kevin makes this and he prepped it all the night before. It was delicious, as always. We had a side of steamed broccoli for extra veggies. So good.

Menu::Dinner with friends
Details::This was cancelled as there was an accidental double-booking and for the life of me I can't remember what we ate instead. I think Kevin made his mac and cheese, but can't be certain. Hmm...must keep better notes.

Menu::Roast Leg of Lamb
Details::Kevin was going to make this, but with the show he was working on, the schedule didn't allow it, so I made an easy standby for our family: bean and tomato quesadillas, with salsa, guacamole and sour cream toppers. A2 doesn't like quesadillas, but loves sour cream, so I managed to get enough bites into him to appease me.

Menu::Roast beef
Details::Had three friends over for dinner and a very delicious roast, with roasted veggies (potatoes, carrots, beets), salad, and apple/rhubarb crumble for dessert. Yes, it was gobbled up. (When we were in Edmonton, we bought a small deep freezer and every autumn we bought an organic quarter cow from Rose Ridge Ranch, seriously the best beef I've ever had. Now, in Vancouver, we had to find a new supplier. That night was our first real taste of it. I found it a little tough, but tasty. We'll see how it goes over the winter.

Menu:: Three Sisters Stew
Details::I couldn't find my recipe for this so I did it from memory and knew I forgot something, probably a spice. We call it chilli so the kids will eat it and grate some cheese on top. Bought a crazy delicious organic loaf of bread to go with it. (I used to make my own bread, but when I got pregnant with H, I gave it up and have only made it once in the last year. Hope to get back to it...one day.) Carrot sticks and hummus for extra veggies. Used some squash I had cut up in the freezer specifically for this dish. Everyone ate a lot of it.

Menu:: Chicken
Details:: Kevin was at the theatre so we had chicken fingers again. Didn't make enough for some reason, or we were all extra hungry. Had strawberries on hand for dessert.

Details::Used the Three Sisters Stew as the base. A2 didn't want burritos, so just ate the stew instead. Kevin was at opening night, so no dinner with us.

Details::I hadn't made plans for Thursday as I wasn't sure if Kevin would be at the show or not and his parents were coming to town. Decided to do a roast chicken with roasted potatoes, beets, carrots, and a green salad. Boys love to eat the drumsticks and managed to eat both beets and carrots. Success!

Details::Had to do something fast as the boys are back at skating, so not a long turn around time for dinner. Made spinach tortellini (*not homemade!) in an alfredo sauce with a pre-smoked salmon cut up and mixed with sauce. Green salad. Quick and easy, and thankfully everyone ate it.

Menu:: unplanned
Details:: SUSHI! Kevin's parents treated the family to takeout sushi. Yum! A huge treat and everyone gobbled it up.

Details::The dinner party that didn't happen last week happened this week. SO good.

What I learned was I really need to make a set menu each week and perhaps mix up the veggies a bit. Yes, roasted beets, carrots, and potatoes almost always get eaten, but a little variety might be nice. Also, I know we had asparagus one night that first week, but can't remember with which meal. Perhaps the roast beef?

2 January 2012


We spent NYE with my sister and two dear friends who really are family now--they're Auntie and Uncle to my kids. We played three different games, ate a lot and drank even more. We meowed our way through Old Lang Syne. And I spied two racoons peeking through our second floor skylight at 3:00 am. (I think they are a harbinger of something, but of what I am not yet sure.)

I'm not one for resolutions at the top of the year--I am much more likely to do them on my birthday--but I do feel like I need to acknowledge the old year and nod to the new one in some way. As we were setting up Settlers of Catan, I made everyone around the table to give one word to describe 2011 and one which we hope will describe 2012, no explanations. It was very interesting.

For me, 2011 was exhausting-large chunks of solo-parenting, pregnancy and new baby, moving from Edmonton back to Vancouver. There were other things, but those were the largest, most draining.

My word for 2012: Acceleration. I won't go into specifics, but I'm want forward momentum for my body, my work, my brain, my spirit.

If you were at my table on NYE, what words would you have offered?