Monday, January 26, 2009

The lazy cook blogs again

Maybe that would be a better name for this blog. Last night I made Lamb Navarin, a recipe from the book I'm working on, but sadly by the time it was on the table I was lacking the energy to find my camera and capture it. Not the most photographic dish anyway - basically just stew made with lamb. It was tasty though, and went down well with the adults and the eldest child. The middle child said something along the lines of "why do you always make this meal that Dad likes but I hate? I loved last night's supper but I hate tonight's." Such melancholy. Seeing as there was still a portion of her beloved last night's supper in the fridge (roast salmon with rice and crispy kale), I popped it in the microwave and offered it to her as a substitute. I feel it is acceptable to offer last night's leftovers as an alternative. She ate up her fish and rice happily (no go on the day old crispy kale). The youngest recited his "that's not my favourite" refrain, but eventually ate up a good portion. I think somehow I've been encouraging this behaviour, as we now have a little routine, where he finally gives in and takes a bite of whatever I have been pleading him to ingest and looks up at me with a big grin, and declares (ever the Dr. Seuss fan) "SAY!". So instead of stew and fish I offer you photographic evidence of my new favorite appy: raincoast crisps with brie, apple and hot pepper jelly. I hate to admit it, but I've become addicted to those 6$ crackers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Feast for Five

No, we have not been starving. I've just been preoccupied with the kind of food writing that pays the bills. But I had to share our Christmas dinner. I got this beautiful fresh young turkey on Christmas Eve, and thanks to my mum's turkey tips (see below), my sister (and her reciting from Nigella's Feast), I managed to not overcook it. Along with the lovely bird we had stuffing (again, my mum's recipe - but I realised that I'd forgotten to buy fresh mushrooms, so I pulled out some dried portobellos and used them), mashed potatoes, homemade gravy (I did it - I have finally overcome my fear of making gravy!), cranberry sauce, squash casserole, carrots, broccoli, and dinner rolls (I admit - from frozen). For dessert there was apple pie and tiramisu (both made on Christmas Eve). Miraculously, all the children behaved for a decent amount of time and we all sat together and enjoyed our first solo family Christmas meal. We enjoyed a civilized conversation and even a couple of parlour games. It occurred to me that they are actually, indeed, growing up a bit. However, if I am to be honest about "what they ate", I must confess that the youngest, who had been sucking candy canes all day, filled up mostly on fizzy lemonade and dinner rolls. I didn't try to change that, because he was was actually sitting nicely with us, not racing up and down or chasing the cats or screaming about anything, which is something to be appreciated in itself. Now I must return to my casseroles, but I wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year, filled with many delicious feasts of your own.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spaghetti Squash

I made this last night - roasted spaghetti squash with a quick tomato and onion sauté on top. Supper was bangers and mash, but I don't really need this particular meal as often as the rest of the family, so I decided it was a good night to use up the squash from our organic box. The eldest child has gone off spuds so she had squash with me and everyone was happy. Yes, there are some black specks in the sauce - that would be my burnt onion. I do miss my gas stove. But while I seem to burn things more often with the electric stove, at least I have the hood fan now, so I'm not setting off the smoke detector as much.

Last Friday night I tried to order pizza but nobody was answering the phone at Domino's, so I decided to make homemade. The kids prefer putting on their own toppings anyway. I was a little out of practice, having been on a homemade pizza hiatus since the book, but it all came back quickly and now I'm a born again pizza maker. Above you have mine (pesto, feta, fresh tomato and olives) and the middle child's (tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami and olives).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coq au Vin

I had to include the romantically entwined carrots in my photo. It was the right weather for this kind of meal, and everyone enjoyed it (though once again it took some persuading the youngest). I used white wine instead of the Burgundy called for in the recipe, thinking it would be more child-friendly, and strategically avoided most of the mushrooms when doling out the kids' portions. We had it with leftover garlic roasted potatoes from Sunday night. Tomorrow we'll have leftovers, I think, so perhaps I'll devote some attention to my other blog. (Or work - there's a thought!). The Packed Lunch Edition made me and my parents reminisce about the days when my father would pack our lunches, and a catastrophic experiment involving taramasalata on raisin bread. My father was our school principal so I think my brother and I joined forces and marched into the office at lunchtime to declare the sandwiches inedible. Please feel free to share, if you have the inclination, your favourite or least favourite packed lunch item.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Packed Lunch Edition, part 2

There you have it - the fruit came back (half a kiwi, and all the mango). Also half of the plain cream cheese bagel. Typical. The lovely sandwich packs are locally made - I got them at a stall at the South Park Family festival in September, but after a google search I discovered that they are also available at this Etsy shop. I think I'm going to order the snack packs next, and cut back even further on the dreaded ziplock bags.

Supper tonight: Spanish Rice with Beef and Steamed Broccoli

This recipe came from my mother-in-law and was a hit all around. Although the youngest (Captain Impossible) initially resisted ("why you make something YUCKY? I want wackawoni cheese."), we stood firm on the no supper-no dessert stand and he eventually ate his entire portion, even admitting that it was yummy, while still trying to avoid the more visible chunks of tomato. Like most other parents out there, I've read the literature and know that we aren't supposed to use dessert as a bribe, but I'm sorry, it really works. Tonight, for instance, there were rice crispie squares (and grapes!) on offer. Sam and Lily had helped make the squares (I am becoming more patient when it comes to letting children assist in the kitchen) so they knew about them, and I like to think of it more as an incentive than a bribe -which is all that was needed, because it really was good kid-friendly food, they just needed to get over the hump of seeing something new on their plates.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Packed Lunch Edition, part 1

For those who missed the comments on my last post, I'm responding to a request for an honest portrayal of what gets sent to school in the lunch box and what comes home. I'm having some technical difficulties today, so although I managed, in my pre-coffee state, to locate camera and take pictures of the lunch boxes this morning, I have been unable to upload any photos. Help! I wish I wasn't so technologically challenged. I'm off to the mac shop for guidance tomorrow (several tech troubles arose after I updated with the iLife '08 software). In the meantime, two descriptions. For Lily: bagel with cream cheese, bag o' pirate booty (healthier version of cheetos), kiwi, apple juice and a cheese stick. For Alex: bagel with cream cheese and lox (I've discovered the cheaper "lox trimmings" option), bag o' ritz bits (leftover from Halloween), a cheese stick, apple juice and a few pieces of dried mango. My packed lunches tend to be a bit heavier on the carbs as I find that most fruit or vegetables sent to school tend to come home uneaten and bruised. It drives me crazy. Rather than fighting this reality, I avoid it by getting their fruit and veg in at other times of day (fruit with breakfast and after school, veggie and hummus plate before supper, and veg with supper). I think the lunches will go down well today - Lily has started helping assemble her lunches, which has definitely improved their success, but we'll see. Photographic evidence will be supplied as soon as the computer is sorted out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Somewhat Healthy Snacks

After school fruit platter

So we've had some issues around a certain indulgent father giving his daughters treats after school on a regular basis. My position is they aren't "treats" if they get them on a regular basis. Last week I put my foot down and said "NO AFTER SCHOOL CANDY. BRING THOSE GIRLS STRAIGHT HOME FOR A HEALTHY SNACK." But a friend of mine returned a piece of tupperware filled with some pre-halloween treats, so I incorporated them into my fruit platter. A compromise of sorts. It's been a bad couple of weeks on the sugar front, what with those irresistible chocolate mint girl guide cookies to be sold (much easier to eat them ourselves than sell them) and then Halloween. This week I will attempt to restore the balance.