Friday, 27 September 2013

Rory Calhoun

Alternate title:  a Baby in Good Standing

For some reason, my video uploader isn't working, so this is what we get in place of a very cute video.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Down by the river

After a few too many nights of colds and misery, it was a beautiful day yesterday, so I thought we should try to bike to the river after school.  I packed drinks and a snack (the complicated-but-rather-delicious Cook's Illustrated Banana Bread), and away we went.

The kids did amazingly well - it's a little over a kilometre each way, almost entirely on busy sidewalks, but we got there in about 20 minutes.  Within sight of the playground, we stopped for a while to admire the ducks, geese and swans.  The kids have spent so much time at this park with their caregiver, and they really miss it.  It's an incredible green space with NCC pathways throughout - perfect for running, biking, or blading...or just enjoying the green energy.  I often forget how close we live to the river, and would love have adventures there more often.

Tamsin was super-interested in all the birds, including this beautiful pair of swans.  

Next, we found a jungle cat, asleep on a tree.  And if you look carefully, there's another one up in the branches.

Vaughn showed off his amazing spider-skills.

The light was incredible.  We left the park around 5:15 and pedaled (much more slowly) home.
(Not bad for cellphone pics, eh?  You can see how the light changed in just 40 minutes.)

Rematch: Zu-quinoa Soup

Check and mate!

The alterations made a huge difference to last week's creation, and tonight I ladled up four bowlfuls of sweet, fragrant, mildly spicy deliciousness.  I think Tamsin ate more than the rest of us put together!

With it, we had cheddar and apple muffins (I played with that recipe, too, but the "healthening" of them rendered them a bit drier than I'd prefer.  So I buttered them.  :)

Nom nom nom.

Friday, 13 September 2013

DG of Quinoa? Qui, moi?

(apologies for the lame title)

As I have finally driven Chris away,* I now get to make vegematarian meals more often for the Hufflings.

My latest oeuvre** was -- and really, the name is inspiring by itself -- Curried Carrot Apple Zu-quinoa (Zucchinoa?) Soup.


1 tbs butter
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 apple, diced
1/2 a ridiculously massive zucchini, diced
not enough curry powder
3/4 c quinoa
3 c homemade turkey broth (it was in my freezer)
salt and pepper, not quite to taste
goldfish crackers (to add salt/flavour)

Saute all the veggies in the butter, add the curry powder (but use more than I did... I'd recommend at least 2 tsp or 1 Tbs), add the quinoa and broth, let it simmer for... I don't know... a while... and add salt and pepper.

It was fairly bland, but I was coasting on the healthiness of it, and the goldfish really brought it to life... as long as you had a goldfish in every bite.  The next day, however, it had thickened up considerably (the quinoa was looking squiddier than the night before), and the flavours had improved.  It had redeemed itself enough to make me want to try it again, but with the following adjustments:

- 2 apples
- more curry powder and 1 Tbs lemon juice, added to just the onions before adding the rest of the veggies
- using a more flavourful broth, as the turkey was pretty bland (possibly even -- gasp! -- bouillon cubes)

I'm making it again this week, so we'll see how it goes.

Tonight, however, my esteemed colleague Chef Ailsa Encraque helped me make deeeelicious Creamy Green Spaghetti.  She picked lots of fresh basil from our garden yesterday, peeled 2 cloves of garlic, poured in some parmesan, some toasted pine nuts (I did the toasting, of course), and some olive oil,  cracked in a bunch of pepper, and then whirred them around in our little handy blender.  Today, she chose whole wheat spaghetti noodles at the store, and I boiled it up, added (the shame!) 1/2 a packet of white cheddar cheese sauce mix, some milk and butter, and stirred in half of the pesto.  I sprinkled on the extra pine nuts and served it to the critics.

Vaughn took one bite and actually shouted, "I LOVE IT!"   He is insisting that we make it again for Chris when he comes home next.  Awww.  "Ailsa, it's really good," he repeated.  What a good big brother!  Tamsin liked it too, as indicated by her kicky feet and eyes keenly watching the fork's trip back and forth between her bowl and her mouth.

And now, for a whole weekend with no lunches to make.  And peanut butter at every meal!  Huzzah!

* Literally.  I drove him to Toronto.  Ok, it's only for 10 months.  With many, many weekend visits.  But still.

** note to self:  look up "oeuvre" and make sure it means "extremely mediocre dish, lacking in flavour"

Sunday, 8 September 2013

All Growed Up

One down.

The Vaughnster went off for his first day of junior kindergarten on Friday.  

My little man got himself dressed in his new clothes, his new jacket and his new backpack, and got on that bus without even looking back.  Waaaah!

"Smile," I said.  "No, Mommy," he said, "I want to look serious."

At the school bus stop, my brave young man salutes us before he heads off to scholastic war.  The womenfolk look on admiringly.

That made it sound so simple.  I can't believe how challenging it was to simply pack his freaking lunch.  The new school system (at Manor Park PS, anyway), requires not a lunch and two snacks, but two "nutrition breaks".  These are two meals that divide the day into thirds.  Also, due to the litterless lunch policy, you can't send juice boxes, yogurt cups, or anything even in a baggie.  Also, there are no nuts allowed.  And also, the lunches/snacks have to be divided up and labeled so that a hungry, distracted 4-year old doesn't eat the whole thing at 10:30 and be starving and thirsty till 3:38, when he gets off the bus.  Also, it all needs to fit into his lunch box.  With two drinks.

It only took two and a half hours of effort on my part the night before, but I did it.  Of course, both drinks (milk and 50/50 juice and water, frozen to act as an ice pack) leaked in his bag, so when he got home, I had to empty everything out of everything (everything that was perfectly labeled, I might add) and wash it all out.

But!  This amazing kid pulled the stool over to the sink, and climbed up.  I had asked him to just dump all of his empty tupperware into the sink, but he insisted on -- wait for it -- washing each and every piece by hand.

Getting off the bus at the end of the day... and full of smiles!
 He has decided to go back on Monday.  I hope to not cry so much this time.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Taking the Biscuit

Today was a stellar day, parenting-wise.*

Check this out:

We got up at 7 (still not ready for school, but don't worry!  We still have 2 more days!), played outside, went to the train museum on a playdate, went to the fish store (our newest addition, Scuba, needed a house), and came home for a nice lunch of corn soup, crackers, yogurt, and carrot cake (thanks, Grandma!).

Full name:  Scuba Gooding Jr., of course.**

While the girls napped, Vaughn and I cleaned Scuba's tank, built a castle with blocks, and practiced writing our numbers.***  When Ailsa woke up, the two of them, giggling, helped themselves to granola bars, but they cleverly each volunteered a big bite to me, to bargain for not having to share with each other).  I took Miss Tamsin out in the stroller while the kids rode their bikes to the park for a few more minutes of activity before dinner, which was a biscuit-topped casserole that used up the chicken and cauliflower leftover from last night.  Yes, biscuits!  Mmmm, biscuits! All in all, a day worthy of the title Domestic Goddess.

 "Mmmm-mm!  Know who doesn't like biscuits?" I asked the kids.  "Crazy people."

They ate for a while in silence, then Ailsa leaned over to me seriously.

"Mommy," she asked, "Does Uncle Sean like biscuits?"

Now, the obvious interpretation to that question was cemented when Vaughn waited a few beats then asked, "What about Aunt Tracey?  Does she like biscuits?"

It's been three hours, and I'm still giggling.

* What I mean by that, of course, is that all three kids behaved themselves really well without any actual work on my part, and I didn't have to put on my cranky pants.

**  Here's wishing him a happy home with us, like his predecessors, Bellini (2006-2007) and Buddy (2008), RIP (Rest In Plumbing).

***  I'm pretty good.