Monday, January 25, 2010

Resolution Updates

Resolution #1: To Try New Recipes

Well, it's now January 26th. My goal was to try 24 new recipes this year. But, because it's going so well, I'm bumping it to 48 new recipes. So far I've made 18. I'm on a roll. And I can feel my bottom growing by the minute. Turns out I love butter. I told my kids that if I wasn't married to their dad, I'd marry butter. I did actually say that.

So far only one recipe has been voted off the island. Creamy peas are a no-go here. Not a friendly, I repeat, NOT a friendly. Who would've thought that adding butter, heavy cream and sugar to peas would be not-so-tasty? Trust me on this one.

Here's some really good ones and if you like, I'll send you the recipes:
-Salsa Chicken
-French Onion Soup (to-die-for)
-Beef Bourguinon (so good that I'm making it for company next weekend)
-Chicken Petrograd a la Pete
-French Silk Pie (I did actually kiss the French Silk Pie. If butter won't marry me, I'll ask French Silk Pie)
-Jitka's White Chocolate Party Mix (I made that name up myself...can you tell? But it's so good if you like sweet with salty)
-Famous Butter Chicken (there it is again, my future spouse)
-Buttered Rosemary Buns
-Honey Wheat Bread
-Italian Meatball Soup
-Perfect Pot Roast (and it actually was perfect)

These are the super duper yummy ones. The others were good too but hey, they can't all be five star recipes. I'll keep you posted. If I make it to the 48 new ones without gaining 22 pounds, it'll be a miracle. But boy, will it have been fun to get there.

#2 - Flossing My Teeth. This resolution came a little late in the game, but since my traumatic experience at the dentist last week, I have actually flossed every single day. And made my kids do it too. For some of you out there, this is just plain common sense. Turns out I'm lacking a little in that department.

#3. I only posted my one of my new years resolutions way back when I made them. Another one is to cut down on sugar. Seems silly that I cut down on sugar and UP the butter content in my life, but that's the way it is. You can't blame me. But after watching that scary movie FOOD INC., I decided I don't want to be that statistic about diabetes. So, we're drinking way more water and cutting out any juice. I've stopped buying pop. Dessert is only on weekends....except for tonight 'cause I found this fabulous recipe for a baked apple cake, dripping in a warm carmelly sauce. So good. But now we won't have anything till Friday. At least the kids won't. I need to polish off some cake.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Casual Observances.

#1. It's the end of January. This means it is time to take your Christmas tree down. If you are still enjoying sitting in the glow of those white lights in the evening, get a ficus tree and toss some lights on it. Christmas is over. I know it's harsh, but it's truth.

#2. The new design of toilet paper holders has changed my life. The old kind, as seen below:

...was very difficult for some people to change. Somehow squeezing that spring-loaded little thingy was more than some folks could bear and so they left the old roll on and sort of, carefully balanced the new roll of TP on top of the cardboard insert of the old. BUT...the new seen here:
can miraculously be changed by anyone. It seems that it has brought about a new willingness in the lazy bathroom-user to switch the rolls! This is true genius and my hat goes off to the person who invented it.

#3. Grating cheese is like, the worst job in the kitchen. I'm happy to peel, scrub, wash, stir, cut, chop, whatever. But I hate grating. Is it true that a food processor makes all the difference??

#4. In and around our city, especially at bus stops, there are these poster/ads. They drive me crazy. Not because they are bad advertising or ugly, but because of what they imply about our society. I don't think these posters are wrong, no doubt they are accurate. But if they are....we're a bunch of rude and insensitive Londoners.

They are all ads for the LTC - London Transit Commission. Short for: the bus.

Poster/Ad #1: Please move all the way to the back of the bus.

Poster/Ad #2: Please offer your seat to those who need it most.

Isn't so sad that the LTC has to use advertising budget money for these kinds of messages? Should this not be common sense? common courtesy?? This drives me crazy.

I don't have the time or the energy for a full-on rant today, but I sure would like to see one. Perhaps two of my blogging, London friends could take up this cross, 'cause I'd sure like to hear Big Liver Girl or Loudshoes go off on this one.

Anyhow, that's it for today. Just some random thoughts on life. None of them very important or thrilling, but thoughts nonetheless.


That's what I am. And really, I shouldn't be at all. But see, I went to the dentist today.

I don't believe in dentistry. I guess it's a necessary evil, but to me, it's just plain evil. I hate it.

It hurts. It's uncomfortable. It's expensive. It's painful. And you know what, I know pain. I can handle pain. I'm not braggin' but I had five kids sans epidural. I'm as tough as the next patient. BUT dental pain is like torture. At least with labour, once the pain is over you get a beautiful gift of a baby. With dentistry, the pain of the procedure is equal in pain to standing at the desk and paying the bill.

I had two cavities. I should know better. My excuse is that I had not been to the dentist for eleven years. No joking. E-LEV-EN. That's how much I loathe the experience. And after the mind-altering, nerve-wracking, head-rush-causing, chinese-torture-like discomfort I just experienced this afternoon, I probably will leave it for another eleven years.

So, the moral? Add a new resolution to the year's list. I WILL brush and floss like a fiend for the rest of the year and forevermore to never have to live through an afternoon like this one again.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll look back on this post and think that I exaggerated a little, but at this moment in time, I'm feeling rather sorry for my own self.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Red Neck Family

This weekend the kids were playing outside. The weather had warmed up here just enough to make the snow PERFECT for building snowmen. It's always so cute to me when they build snowmen and because they're getting a little older, they don't need my help.

Turns out I should've been out there. They called me to the front yard and this is the scene that sits there...for all the world to see:

Two very large snowmen and one adorable snow-mouse. But look at little closer....

Yep. That's a bow in that snowman's hand. And...
Not sure if you can see the pistol in this snowman's hand. Wait...there's more:Don't forget the little sniper-snowman up on the top of our dead tree. But who or what are these little icy hunters after??

Why, a deer, of course.
(I had one of those cute white light deer statues that raises and lowers it's head...but a strong gust of wind blew it over one night and it was just laying in the snow.)

So...the little sick-o's took the head of it, build a snow-body for it and stuck a stick in it as the "arrow/bullet/slug" that took it's life. AND if you look closer, they took some red berries from one of our trees and squeezed them for the effect of....

Need I say more?

Guess WHO comes out of HIS workshop to see this masterpiece and starts laughing his head off? NOT ME.

You'd think that being home with them all day, every day, I'd have more of an influence on them than their father! Not true, dear readers. And all the more reason for me to try even harder. Red necks we may be....but not for long!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Funny stuff from today...

Nolan is learning his multiplication tables. He was thrilled with himself this morning when, practicing by himself, he mastered the 6 times tables. He says to me, "Mom , can I scorch you with the flames of my times tables??"

Where do they get this stuff?


Mr. Practical Pants, Ethan, reads a quote from my fridge calendar that says, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars." His response: "No you won't. The moon is closer. It should be 'Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you'll land in the stratosphere.'"

I love the stuff kids come up with.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I've finally decided on my new year's resolutions for 2010. I know, I know, it's January 11th, but it took me a while to decide what exactly I was resolved to do.

Now I don't do any high and lofty type of resolutions. No sireee. They just don't get done. But if I keep it practical, fun, and interesting, I am far more likely to achieve it. Last year one of my resolutions was to keep on top of the laundry situation here. Turns out I did it. Except for when we came home from holidays or weekends away, I did NOT have a mountain of laundry to deal with for the entire year. The key to my success? Do laundry all day, every day. Keep those machines running. For sure I do two loads a day. I also gave up separating whites from darks. Most things are colour-fast these days anyhow. And in 365 days, I never once pulled a once-white t-shirt that was now pink out of my dryer. (I did however pull out an entire load of orange streaked laundry.....turns out Jack put an orange crayon in his pocket and I didn't notice till after it had melted all over the clothes in the dryer.)

So...that one worked. So many choices for 2010. Would it be about exercise?? Nahh. Sounds painful. Would it be about eating right? Nah. Sounds....tasteless. How about it be about eating well? As in....more butter. More sugar. More white flour?? Nahh....sounds like next years resolution would be about weight loss.

Drum roll BIG new years resolution for 2010 is: try new recipes. Lots and lots of new recipes. My initial goal was 24 new recipes over the year. That's only 2 a month. So...I've pumped it up to 4 per month.
So far so good. I've tried 4 new ones already and it's only the second week of January.
I've tried:
French Onion Soup ~ so good. It's from Cooks Illustrated magazine.
Salsa Chicken ~ yum. It's a keeper.
Cream Peas ~ sounds weird but I love and this one got high ratings. It's cooking on the stove right now, so I'll let you know.
Best Baked Pork Chops - Cooks Illustrated again.

AND...I learned to make Chicken Petrograd and French Silk Pie this past weekend. They should really count too. So now I'm up to six. Not bad. 42 to go. If you've got any really good ones, send them my way!

Time to go....the timer is dinging...peas are ready!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'll share with you.

There are some recipes that are just way too good to keep to yourself. This bread recipe is one of them. I first received it from my dear friend, Wendy, and I have loved it since the first baking. It is so good and so easy. Don't shy away from it just because it's a home-made bread. There are only four ingredients. You don't have to knead it. You only stir and watch the magic happen.

There is one piece of equipment required that some people might not have. You need a dutch oven with a lid that can go into the oven at high temperatures. I have a Le Creuset enamel/cast iron pot. These pots are totally expensive. I think mine retails at about $220.00 but I got it used off eBay for $50. Well worth it. But if you have any plastic on your pot handles or lid, you will want to remove it before using this recipe. I know that usually the little handle on the lid can come off easy enough with a screwdriver but not so sure if your actual pot has plastic handles.
Here's a pic of my well-used, well-loved pot. It has a plastic knobby handle on the lid but it can withstand the 500 degree oven that this recipe requires.

First, you need to start this recipe at about 7 or 8 pm. It rises all night long and you can begin to work with it at about 9 am the next morning. It's a perfect lunch bread. You can also leave it alone all day and start working with it at about 2 pm to have for dinner. It's very patient bread.

At 7 pm at night, mix together the following ingredients in a large bowl:
3 cups of white flour
1/4 teaspoon of yeast (I know, its a tiny amount but it works)
1 and 1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 and 1/2 cups of water (tepid) sometimes you need a dribble or two more water

Mix the dry ingredients and then pour in the water. The dough should be totally shaggy and sticky...almost like you need to add more flour...but don't. It's supposed to be like that. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap. Now go and watch tv for the rest of the night. You're not back on duty with this bread until tomorrow!

The next morning, the dough will have risen quite a bit. In the pic below I increased the ingredients 1 and 1/2 times to get a bigger loaf....and it rose so much it almost came over the top of the bowl:
It's wet and bubbly. Basically the dough needs to rise for about 12 to 18 hours.

For lunch bread, dump the wet sticky dough onto a floured surface at about 9 am. Pat it with well-floured hands, squeezing out the air and roll it around till its sort of a ball. Also, take a piece of parchment paper, spray it with Pam, and set it in a good sized frying pan with the buttered side up. Carefully lift the dough ball and set it in the parchment paper. Lightly spray the top of the dough with some more Pam and put the piece of plastic wrap back on top. See pic below:
Let the dough rest for another 2 hours. (It should be about 11 am when you come back to it.)

At about 10:30 am (or 1/2 hour before you want to bake), turn your oven to 500 degrees and put your dutch oven, with lid on, in the oven to heat it up. Put it on the rack at the lowest position in your oven.

Let the pot heat for about 30 minutes till it's good and hot. Take the pot out of the oven, remember it's super duper hot. Remove the lid and lift the dough with the parchment as a sling, and place it carefully in the pot (without burning your hands). Let any extra parchment hang over.

Turn the oven down to 425 degrees. Put the lid on the pot and place pot in the oven. Use oven mitts. :) Bake covered for 30 minutes. You should start to smell the wonderful scent of home-made bread shortly after that. After thirty minutes, open the oven door, take the lid off the pot and bake the bread for 10-15 minutes longer till it browns on top.

Lift the bread out of the pot by the parchment paper and set on cooling rack. It should be noon by now...happy lunch time!!