Oh what a good day was Saturday. Ambitious cookie baking plans. One ambitious cookie baking helper.
Rolling out the dough.
Cutting out the cookies.
And everyone’s favourite step in the process.
Hurray! Treats to share!
Meanwhile, collaborators work on Christmas gifts in mama’s new office.
And one child plays contentedly with Lego.
Evening. Christmas carols being practiced. (Okay, confession time–this started to grate upon the nerves after an hour or so.)
But I was still one happy woman at the end of the day. I wanted to give my kids (and myself) a weekend of holiday preparation in the lead-up to Christmas, into which we will slam at the end of this week–a week in which the kids are still slogging off to school every day. Honestly, I think we’re all a little worn out. In need of a change, a holiday from the routine. Craving downtime. And cookies.
**Monday’s menu: Black bean chili (crockpot). Steamed rice.
**Circumstances: I had to skedaddle to Toronto, so this was set on the table at about 4:56pm (it’s already dark anyway). I wasn’t here for the eating, but the leftovers are fabulous.
**Veg quota: No need for a side. There were plenty of veggies in the chili: corn and red peppers frozen this summer, and home-canned tomatoes.
**Tuesday’s menu: Curried lentil soup (crockpot). Leftover rice.
**Circumstances: This was the evening we went Christmas shopping WITH the children. Arrived home and ate supper out of the crockpot. Should have added a vegetable side, but it was too late by then.
**Wednesday’s menu: Pasta with roasted red pepper sauce. Napa cabbage salad with tahini dressing.
**The reviews: It’s a hit! Mama has a hit! This meal debuts at number one on the charts!
**Mini-recipe: Tahini dressing: Whisk the following ingredients together in a bowl. Half a cup of tahini; 1/2 cup of oil (olive or canola, plus a smaller amount of sesame); the juice of one lemon; 1/4 cup of tamari sauce; salt to taste, plus a sprinkling of sugar if that’s your thing (yes, it’s mine).
**Thursday’s menu: Roasted root veggies (pictured above). Roasted breaded fish. Quick cheese bread.
**Chef’s complaint: Those beets were all about two inches in diameter. I had to wash and peel each one by hand. It took me as long to prep a bag of beets as it did for the cheese bread to bake. Forty minutes of my life!
**Caveat: But the veggies were delicious, especially the beets. Worth it?
**Friday’s menu: Black beans. Baked rice. Tortillas.
**Because: In a rush, of course.
**Awesome leftover meal: Tortilla lasagne. Whipped this up on Saturday, with layers of corn tortillas, black beans, feta cheese, shredded mozzarella, and leftover roasted red pepper sauce. YUM.
**Weekend kitchen accomplishments: Ten dozen ginger snaps. Eight dozen cut-out cookies. Two pans of krispie squares. Four loaves of bread.
**Monday morning addendum: Home with sick son, so putting houseound time to good use and making one batch of really good granola and four litres of yogurt.
I’m not done yet!
But here’s our weekend in a few snapshots …
Pajamas, chess, movies, a sleepover. Oh yes, don’t forget date night and a special meal out. Gorging on old episodes of Modern Family. And tonight, hosting a poetry get-together.
But also: Two rooms painted, lots of baking, and two piles in the kitchen organized into oblivion. I took a photo, but it wasn’t very impressive. Absence rarely is. Just the toaster and the kitchen counter. I also organized one junk drawer, cleaned three shelves in the refrigerator, and filled three bags with baby and maternity items (attic) to donate. It’s not everything, but it’s something.
Next up: Soccer practice and a run in the rainy dark.
And then: Supper? This week’s chalkboard schedule? Going through the kids’ school bags and starting a new pile?
**Monday’s menu: Roasted salmon with teriyaki sauce. Steamed rice. Mashed sweet potatoes. Stir-fried napa cabbage.
**Original plan: Fish. Originally because I’d expected to serve supper to a friend who likes fish (or so I hear), but then plans changed, different friend came over, and the child who despises fish suppered elsewhere, therefore: fish. Remarkably like the original plan, just took a different route to get there.
**In the kitchen: Prepped and cooked immediately after school. Finished the napa cabbage with the juice of one lime. It was good. Ran out of time on the fish, left Kev in charge, drove a truckload of girls to theatre rehearsal.
**The reviews: Mostly good, but the stir-fry was under-appreciated by all the children.
**The verdict: Kev made leftover salmon into sandwiches for school lunches.
**Note to self: Do not gobble delicious dinner moments before going for a run. Or, optionally, cancel run in favour of gobbling delicious dinner. Just don’t try to do both. You will be sorry.
**Tuesday’s menu: Curried lentil-barley stew in crockpot. Bought falafels with pita and hummus.
**Original plan: I knew the crockpot would be involved, but devised no further plan. (This is bad, this lack of planning ahead. Like last week, I quick-jotted an ingredient list and I’m winging it.)
**In the kitchen: Started crockpot first thing in the morning. Smelled fabulous all day. While running errands, passed yummy Middle-Eastern cafe and stopped to buy a dozen fresh-made falafels and some hummus (the owners were having a shouting argument behind the counter while pausing periodically to smile at me, which was a bit unnerving, but hey. The food’s good). Consumption was casual. Kevin got home a few minutes before we burst in from swim lessons; he’d put together falafel sandwiches for himself and Albus, which the pair of them devoured before racing out the door to their first indoor soccer practice. The rest of us ate at a more leisurely pace.
**The reviews: “I don’t like falafel.” “Well, I like falafel, but I don’t feel like eating it right now.” “What it’s called, Mama? it’s a waffle? A fafafal?”
**The verdict: We’ll eat that stew tomorrow. No one touched it but me. And it’s yum.
**Wednesday’s menu: Pasta with pesto. Leftover sweet potatoes revived with cream, maple syrup, and pecans. Bread and cheese.
**Original plan: As above, more or less.
**In the kitchen: Made pasta post-piano lessons. Warmed up sweet potatoes. Toasted pecans. Used half a container of thawed (homemade) pesto, plus a whole whack of fresh-grated parmesan.
**The reviews: Everyone likes pasta with pesto.
**The verdict: Perfect for a quick supper.
**Random kitchen accomplishment: Made four litres of yogurt before breakfast this morning.
**Thursday’s menu: Soup! Squash/bean soup. Curried barley-lentil stew. Leftover rice. Brussel sprouts with pecans. Bread and cheese. (pictured above)
**Original plan: No plan. Needed to use up leftovers.
**In the kitchen: Warmed everything up after school. Spiced up squash/bean soup with cumin and lime (this was a combo of two leftovers languishing in the fridge).
**The reviews: Squash/bean soup surprisingly popular. I ate the stew. Apparently, I am the only one eating this stew. It’s starting to look like a lot of stew.
**The verdict: Not exactly inspired, but passable. Did not tempt me from my supper-hour run, let’s just say.
**Friday’s menu: Bailey’s pick-up, leftovers, and for me, poetry book club.
**Original plan: Where have my plans gone? Must get more organized next week.
**In the kitchen: I did nothing other than unload and store Bailey’s order, and fill a lunch bag with picnic items for soccer girl, who was busy all evening; I also packed an apple and egg for me, after my run.
**The reviews: Heard nothing, saw nothing. Post-soccer and running, I was out the door to my poetry book club where I filled up on snackie goodies (including something known colloquially as an “orgasmatron”). Plus wine, and happy conversation.
**The verdict: My standards sink pretty low by Friday. Good luck to us now that Friday pickups at Bailey’s are over.
**Weekend kitchen accomplishments: Buckwheat pancakes. Four loaves of bread. Three loaves of pumpkin bread. [pained aside: Is that all???? Why did it feel like I spent all of yesterday in the kitchen? Gah!!!!]
What got done this weekend?
Kitchen drudgery: baked four loaves of bread; transformed shrivelled plums into a sauce; whirled and froze five meals’ worth of pesto; roasted and pureed tomatoes as a base for tomato soup and lasagna later this week; baked cookie squares with new baking soda (going on the theory that bad soda caused my treat fail last weekend).
Plus laundry. That’s what comes of having four children and a family involved in multiple sports activities. Also, I’m mildly obsessive compulsive about hanging it to dry.
Soccer tryouts for this child, Saturday and Sunday morning. Lucky me, I got to take her and start both days with a long run on a beautiful autumn trail beside a river.
Vegging and movie-watching. These kids, both afternoons, the same (fairly awful) movie: Cats and Dogs. Plus Kevin and I got out on our own last night and saw a (fairly good) movie: Crazy Stupid Love.
Work on the new garden beds for next spring.
Which leads us to the question: What didn’t get done this weekend?
Harvesting and drying herbs.
Taking the kids to the Harry Potter matinee uptown today.
Signing up for a marathon in November. But I’ve got the registration window open on my browser, so maybe I’ll get up the guts to do it before the day is over.
Sleep. Two late nights + two early mornings = happy social life (and I need a nap.)
Cleaning and tidying. As you can see. (Are those MY socks on the table???? Oh crumbs, they are. Guess I can’t blame the kids for everything).