Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wholesome Sweetness

The past week I have been cooking up a storm.  I took loads of pictures hoping that I could write a few recipes for the blog.  I have mentioned before how much I love cook books and how I read recipes like short stories.  So that's why it was a little heart breaking when I discovered that I hate writing recipes.  Most of the time I don't follow recipes in the dozen of cookbooks I own.  I just like to feel the pages, get some eye candy and get inspired. Lately I have been in love with my "Where Women Cook" magazine.  (I am really hoping someone will get me the book for Christmas! Hello mom are you listening?)

So instead of writing the recipes for the things I have made this week I have decided to give you some eye candy to inspire you and your pots and pans.

(From left to right: cinnamon bread slices & loaf, curry chicken with paneer and raita, cinnamon bread roll,  and banana nut bread with maple syrup frosting.)

The cinnamon slice was inspired by an image I found at Pinterest.  The loaf and the roll were inspired by the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon roll recipe.  I have used this recipe to make rosemary rolls, garlic rolls, Parker house rolls and much more.  We love the rolls with our pulled pork!

Sometimes inspiration comes from a sale sign at the grocery store.  This definitely applies to the Indian meal I made this week. Paneer was on sale and I couldn't resist. Paneer is this Indian cheese that you can fry and add to lots of different  dishes.  It has a smooth texture and soaks up all the flavours of the dish it sits in.  Lovely isn't it.  I like it with spinach or peas.  I don't use a recipe for this but I'm sure there are a lot out there.

Because it is spring and the sugar bush is buzzing I had to make some maple syrup inspired goodies.  Since someone told me that maple syrup has more calcium than milk I have gone out of my way to find reasons to use this duct tape for food ingredient.  I decided to make a Maple Syrup frosting for my banana nut bread.  I'm not usually a frosting kinda girl but I searched far and wide for crevices to smother frosting over.  Soooo goooood.  Amen.  Thank you Jesus!

And just like that I'm done for the night.

What inspires you to get up and cook?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Straight to Fro

I have been on a ride with my hair since finding out I was pregnant with Ella-Shilloh in the Fall of 2009.  I decided not to chemically straighten my hair while I was pregnant. I have very thick coils that take over my head like ink stains on a white page.  It is fun, touchable, freeing and fearful all at the same time.

Every couple of weeks I walked into the neighbourhood salon and let my hairdresser get her biceps work out done by blowing out my mushroom of coils.  She had to take breaks, use a special dryer and sometimes just look at me and giggle.  People would stare at the mushroom of coils and look at my hair dresser with pity.  I couldn't wait to show them how great it would look afterward.  The crazy band of characters it took to make my hair behave worked together to produce smooth, long, shiny strands.  My hair dresser would flip my straight dark hair to show what I prize I had.  After all every body wanted this hair.  Hair that felt light and airy.  Hair that made me feel like I could fly - until I got out the door and realized it was raining.  I would take cover under scarves, hats, purses, coat sleeves, overgrown babies - whatever was in arms reach. After all water was my ultimate frenemy.

In preparation for my girls weekend I found myself in a dilemma.  Should I get my hair "did" and avoid saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, pools - even showers? Just to save some straight strands.  Or should I go natural? What to do?  As I looked at my afro puff in the bathroom mirror I couldn't resist squishing it over and over.  My 2 1/2 year old daughter was watching me.  She sang "Mama I like your hair."  I sang back, "I like it too."  In those little moments I realized that I liked my hair all coiling every which way.  I like the way it grew without any care in the world.  I like the way it spoke without a word coming out of my mouth.  Every time I looked at it would sing, "Mama, I like your hair."  I sang back, "I like you too. Very much. Very much."

What do you like about you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Girls Weekend

Just finished the best weekend ever.  Really. I wanted to fill you in on every detail but thought you might have other things to do - like facebook laundry.  So I'll give you the super reader's digest version.  I love cookbooks and read them like novels so that's how I've chosen to write about this weekend.

1 swanky hotel suite with 3 beds in the middle of downtown Toronto
3 giggly-but-chilled-out-snack-happy girlfriends
1 early morning Walmart run for mags, peanut infused snacks, and A & W (you know how much I love it!)
1 mid afternoon sprint to the new mall where we met Mark McEwen (the chef- photo to follow) and bought stinky cheese and crusty bread
1 quick run to LCBOhhhh (the liquor store) for ice wine (thanks mom), Zinfandel, and a mini shot of Baileys

Endless frivolous t.v. shows while we ate brie, sipped wine, and flipped through magazines in the comfiest bed ever
Room Service
Sweet gifts (chocolate dipped strawberries) from Libby's husband delivered to our room (the strawberries that is!)

1 late late late breakfast that lasted as long as we wanted it to
1 Subway trip to the mall for products that make us smell as sweet as we are (deep down inside)
1 late night dip in the hot tub
3 Amazing families who understand how much we needed this weekend without our children or anyone else for that matter (Thanks Mom - You are the best!)

The plate included salsa, popcorn, french bread, chips and brie - just perfect!
Take all these ingredients and mix them together in any order.  If you would like to increase the amounts any of the ingredients go ahead.  You'll have a blast! For real!

Unfortunately we had to leave.

Have you ever gotten away for some real rest?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bake Mix Stir

Two of my close friends and I decided to do some large scale cooking.  I can't tell you what it does to my heart to be in a professional kitchen.  I love the large stove that holds more pots than I own and a counter top that can handle endless cinnamon roll logs.  

Our cooking journey started on Tuesdays where we would grab our carts assemble the my two girls into them and stroll the isles looking for the most inexpensive way to make pot roast, pulled pork, roasted chicken or pasta meals.  One of my favourite moments was standing up to the grocery manager who mislabeled elephant garlic as colossal garlic.  Instead of paying almost $4 a pound we paid half that.  Don't mess with us, we are armed with our mixers, sharp knives and nights of recipe hunting.  We always ended our shopping days with a Costco lunch with the girls.  Our three daughters and the three of us would dip french fries, smother hot dogs and sing endless rounds of  ring around the rosie.

I can't tell you how much I looked forward to our shopping and cooking sessions.  On Thursdays we roasted garlic, made endless trays of meat balls, hand rolled fragrant rosemary dinner rolls and had the occasional meringue mishap.  Our time gave us an opportunity to catch up, giggle, and trade secrets.  I learned a lot from my fellow cooks.  Here are some lessons learned:

1. Montreal steak spice is a must have.  You can use it in meat balls (amazing!), pulled pork and just about any meat dish that needs garlic and onions.

2.A & W root beer.  A & W root beer.  It deserved a second mention.  Libby (one of the cooks) pours a bottle into her slow cooker and cooks her pork shoulder in it.  Can someone say AMEN!

3. Homemade dinner rolls are a must.  This has become one of my favourite things to make for dinner.  When I make dinner rolls for my family, friends, or church it is the equivalent of a cherry on top, a chocolate on your pillow, and a red carpet at the Oscars.  It sends the message - you are special.  Have a dinner roll.  We used the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon roll recipe and just omitted the sugar and rolling part.  

4. Clean up. All three of us brought something valuable to the team.  The most valuable member is the woman who cleans/tidies/organizes WHILE she cooks.  She does this so well you don't notice - until she is sick and you realize it took you twice as long to make that meal.

What are you bringing to the kitchen?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chasing Thoughts

This week has been tough.  The constant reminders, yelling, incessant chatter, sibling fights and road runner paces leave me tired.  I sit tonight and reflect on the week that slipped passed me.   The days where my voice thinned and my chest pounded leap back into my mind.  I think about all the messages he heard:
go to
       the step
       your room
       your bed
                    without prayers

It hits me right back.  Nobody should go to bed without... especially prayers.  As exhausting as his feet are to watch and his questions are to answer he is loved.  He calls me to a place where my feet turn from and my head aches in.  A place where I know he would rather not be if he had a choice.  He doesn't.

He doesn't like chasing thoughts that don't rest - even for a second.  He would rather finish what he started and be the star student -for once. He would love to spend time with his siblings that don't end with someone getting hurt because impulses raced ahead of reason.

Tonight I remind myself that I hope to be a reminder of what he can be despite the racing thoughts, impulses that don't quit and quick steps that lead everywhere all at once.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

You've spent an entire week feeling tired and worn out.  Most nights you crawl into bed way too late and wake up way too early.  Then it happens.  Right there waiting for you is an early to bed evening where visions of soft warm sleepy moments lay.  Babies are sleeping soundly (beside you) and the house is still and quiet.  The duvet feels like it should and all in well in the world.

Then at 2:43 AM your eyes spring open for no apparent reason.  Just like that this night of sleepy bliss has turned into another late night...mare.  I hate when that happens.  I lay there praying (no really I am praying) that I would go back to sleep.  Eyes still wide open.  Then I move on to other prayers about my children, marriage, my friends marriages, doctors, world peace, meals in the making, TMZ... whatever I can come up with.  Eye lids still apart.  I figure I might as well make some use of this "extra" time.  Here are some things to do when your eyes won't do what they should:

1. Go on facebook  a laundry folding spree (Yippeeee! not.)
2. Clean out your fridge (that blondie feels so much better in your tummy) oven
3. Get back to your blog that you have neglected for (almost) months!
4. Watch YouTube  your baby sleep with ease (sooo jealous!)
5. Goggle the Ministry of Transportation because you need to get that renewal sticker before you get a nother  ticket!

I hope your late-night-early-morning was as productive as mine!

What do you do with your "extra time"?