Category: Cooking

The week in suppers: family time

romanfeast
“Roman feast”

**Monday’s menu** Corn and white bean chili (crockpot). Fried kale. Leftover rice and quinoa.
**Thanks to** the LCBO magazine for the chili recipe. Kale was supposed to be included, but I cooked it separately. It was delicious (the kale, I mean).

**Tuesday’s menu** Beans and rice and tortillas.
**Swim lessons + soccer** This has become my go-to meal for our tripleheader evening of swim lessons, Soccer Girl’s practice, and Coach Kevin and son’s soccer game. Throw in some salsa and cheese and wrap it up, and everyone’s happy. Well, as happy as everyone can be when everyone is being rushed about mercilessly.

**Wednesday’s menu** Leftover soups (miso, chili, and harira). Toasted pita chips (homemade). Crackers and cheese. Green salad with mustard dressing.
**Family time** We always relax on Wednesday evenings. We have time. The pita chips were a hit: made by brushing stale pitas with oil and sprinkling with salt and paprika and cumin and baking at 400 until crispy. Good conversation.

**Thursday’s menu** Pasta with pesto. Hummus, falafel, kim chi.
**Chef Kevin in charge** I took AppleApple to her goalie practice, which happens over the supper hour, so Kevin made supper using pesto frozen last fall. He kept it hot for us, and for me added a little side plate of kim chi, hummus, and falafel, which was crazy delicious. The kim chi is made by a waiter at our favourite restaurant — he knows I love kim chi, so he gave me a jar the last time we were there. It is so good, I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m through.

**Friday’s menu** Mashed potato soup. Roasted squash. Bread and cheese.
**Injury** I gouged myself whilst peeling the squash and cutting it into chunks. Just what I need, a cooking-related injury. However, the roasted squash with garlic was beyond delicious. Wish there was an easy route to peeling and cutting squash.
**Family time** Another memorable meal, with great conversation. It was fun to have Albus’s friend join us, giving us insight into the social life of the grade five boy.

:::

**Weekend cooking accomplishments** Four loaves of bread. Potato tortilla (Spanish omelet) for brunch on Sunday.

Feb12 305
AppleApple in her Roman toga (as made by AppleApple)

**Cooking with kids** AppleApple’s menu. A Roman feast! Spiced grape juice. Cabbage salad. Barbequed chicken served on a platter with rice and cumin-spiced sauce. Grilled eggplant. Honey-soaked dates stuffed with walnuts for dessert. (Nobody else was required to wear a toga; and my God isn’t she gorgeous?)

The week in suppers, plus Christmas baking!

enter the root vegetable
**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.

Green Dreams: where ideal meets grumpy

Yesterday morning, I carried my three-year-old to nursery school, nearly one kilometre away, in the rain. Why? Well, he wasn’t in a walking mood, that’s why he was on my back. But the reason I was walking was bare bones basic: I didn’t have a car at my disposal; Kevin had an early appointment to which he needed to drive. About six months ago, as part of our family’s Green Dream plan, we downsized to one vehicle. Are we a greener family than before? Yes, mostly because having fewer options forces us to make different choices.

Such as carrying a kid on my back in the rain to nursery school.

Listen, if I could have driven, I would have. I’d been up early swimming, I’d gotten four kids fed and organized and three of them out the door. That left one little guy, and he couldn’t get to school by himself. I wanted my quick restorative morning nap. It was too wet to fire up the bike stroller. If there had been a vehicle in the driveway, would I have chosen to walk? Not a chance. So the omission of the vehicle itself is feeding into the success of our Green Dreams. It’s so easy to take the easy route when it’s easily available.

Sometimes, I’m grumpy about it. If you see a bedraggled woman, surrounded by a pile of kids in raincoats, shaking her fist at you as you drive by, think of me. In fact, hey, that is me! And yes, I just cursed you and your car for blocking my family’s passage across the street. Or maybe just for being inside a warm dry moving vehicle. Sorry. It’s wet out here. And we’re moving so slowly.

I am not a naturally patient person, but do subscribe to the notion that by walking (or biking) rather than whisking along inside the sealed world of the car, I am experiencing life differently. Out here, I know the weather. I know the seasons. I know the geography. Plus, I have to leave on time, or I’ll definitely be late. There is no such thing as breaking the speed limit when walking with four children.

But here’s my confession: you’ll still see me in a car pretty frequently these days (maybe that was you shaking your fist at me.) We do have ONE after all and I can’t imagine life without it. Well, I can, but life would include a whole lot less soccer. There are no direct bus lines to either of the two sports facilities that draw members of our family upwards of nine times a week. One is 5.5km away, the other is 9km. In other words, not terribly far, and probably biking distance (though not for short legs on tiny bicycles); but in addition to there being no direct bus routes, there is also no safe bike path to either place (not to mention, as the season changes, we’d be biking after dark.)

It’s one thing to complain about this, but another to ask: Would we choose to bike or ride public transit if it were an option? And truthfully, I think we would not. Not unless we had to. Because we’re usually in a hurry. We’re dropping one kid here, and racing to get another there. We’re cutting corners, juggling schedules, trying to cheat time. Having a car allows us to schedule our lives in a way that cannot be transposed into a car-free life.

So, I’m resigned to carrying some Green Guilt. In fact, our family’s increasingly busy sports schedule also means we consume more water than we used to. I’m telling you. The laundry. Wash those socks as quickly as possible! I hang everything to dry, with the exception of giant loads of towels, which tend to go in the drier. But still. Green, it ain’t.

Maybe it was the Green Guilt over the car and the sports that led me to introduce our latest experiment: we’ve gone vegetarian at home. We are neither buying nor cooking meat (with the exception of seafood, on occasion). The kids are missing ham on their sandwiches, and I am constantly brainstorming ways to get more protein into all of us (like starting the day with eggs for breakfast). And if a grandparent invites us for a meal that includes meat, we’re happy to eat it up. But at home, we’re meat-free. It’s been about a month, and I’m sticking to it, despite the odd complaint, because a meatless diet is one sure-fire way to shrink a family’s ecological footprint. And we’ve got such a big (sweaty) one. We’ve got to try.

Even if it means grumpy walks in the rain. And children fantasizing about summer sausage.

Best intentions, the weekend edition

What got done this weekend?

Digging potatoes.

Washing potatoes.

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?

Church. Again.

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).

The Week in Suppers: Reprised

Monday’s menu. Fresh tomato soup. Quesadillas. Green salad with maple dressing.
The rationale. Corn tortillas languishing in freezer. Tomatoes rotting on counter. Quesadillas = Latin American grilled cheese sandwiches, ergo good for dipping in tomato soup. Green salad last minute raw veg addition.
The reviews. Soup is bland (I blame you, Moosewood Cooks At Home). Fried quesadillas require last-minute labour and fill kitchen with smoke. Run out of corn tortillas; little kids prefer softer whole wheat version anyway. No dipping whatsoever. Quesadillas devoured. Sides of crema, yogurt, and asparagus salsa demanded. Green salad generally ignored.
The verdict. Will not be repeating anytime soon.

Tuesday’s menu. Red beans and baked white rice. Curried cauliflower. Roasted eggplant and patty-pan squash.
The rationale. Original menu was quiche; not in mood to make quiche crusts. Brain searches for easy substitute. Need protein, ergo beans. Beans need rice. Cauliflower’s been on the menu for days, only to be dispatched with at last minute. Eggplant and patty-pans looking wilty. Planned to throw into curry, no room in pan, ergo tossed under broiler instead.
The reviews. Beans good, rice good. Some eggplant burns while I blog about menu; the irony.
The verdict. Anytime. This meal, give or take the veggie sides, is a forever keeper.

Wednesday’s menu. Pasta with fresh-made pesto. Quinoa salad with spelt and leftover beans.
The rationale. Bought basil for this purpose. Time to prep meal between nursery school and piano lessons. Meal needs to be served quickly upon arriving home from piano.
The reviews. “M.P.”: Albus on the quinoa salad. Note: M.P. in Albus-speak stands for “more please.”
The verdict. Both items are keepers. Pesto made with sunflower seeds = leftovers suitable for school lunches.

Thursday’s menu. Fish* baked in a teriyaki/ginger marinade. Roasted potatoes. Sesame stir-fried spinach, zucchini, and eggplant.
The rationale. Fish is quick. Daughter needs to eat supper in a hurry before early soccer practice.
The reviews. Conversation between daughter and mother: “What’s for supper?” “Fish, potatoes, and spinach.” “But I only like one of those things.”
The verdict. Daughter eats potatoes and leftover quinoa salad, makes early soccer practice. I bat 3-6 on the fish, 0-4 on the children-eating-spinach, but I pitch a perfect potato game.

Friday’s menu. Crockpot chili with stewing beef. Baguette. Cheese buns.
The rationale. Crazy rushed schedule, ergo crockpot of leftover beans and tomato soup, plus seared beef** and fried onions and chili powder = supper. Pick-up from Bailey’s adds extras.
The reviews. “Is this ketchup soup?”: CJ. “Is there meat in this soup?”: CJ. “Are there tomatoes in this soup?”: CJ. “I don’t like this soup.”: CJ. “It tastes rotten.”: CJ.
The verdict. Everyone else has second helpings. Easy, fast, tasty with crema and crushed tortilla chips. Hey, it’s Friday.

*no, fish is not vegetarian; we are experimenting with keeping it on our menu
**no, beef is really really really not vegetarian; I am using up the last of the meat currently in our freezer: down to two packages of hamburger

Questions I ask myself after spending another beautiful day in the kitchen

I’ve spent the day in the kitchen. I can’t decide if this is a fine and lovely thing, for which I am appreciative, or if it’s a bit of a waste, and I should have been outside in the sunshine, or off to church this morning, or participating in one of the many community events going on today …

Instead, I woke up, started the laundry, hung a load from last night on the line outside, and turned on the radio, which is my constant companion on kitchen days. Then I began. I started by mixing and kneading a batch of bread and setting it to rise on the counter. I chopped and stewed plums and pears, which had been going to mush on the counter. In another pot, I sauteed onions, garlic, and herbs, and on a baking sheet arranged whole, cored tomatoes. I fired up the BBQ to about 375, and roasted the tomatoes with the sauteed veggies for several hours. I heated milk and washed jars and made yogurt. I mixed up cookie dough and baked the worst cookies ever. (And I followed the recipe. I have no explanation, except that maybe the kitchen is politely telling me to scram).

And I hung a second load of laundry on the line.

Could that be all? I started before 9am, and it is now nearly 4pm. For my efforts, I have arrayed before me: 2 jars of plum-pearsauce; 4 loaves of bread; several litres of roasted tomato sauce; 6 jars of yogurt; and a batch of barely edible cookies. The week ahead, and its necessary meals, remains unplanned. I am, therefore, going to throw on my running gear and go for a looooooooong run in today’s remaining sunshine. Fooey and Kevin are in charge of supper: pita pizzas on the BBQ using that roasted tomato sauce (I scraped the roasted ingredients into a pot and macerated them using a hand blender).

:::

As the school year begins again, my mind returns to the necessity of producing weekday suppers, frequently to be eaten at a ridiculously early hour, or immediately upon arriving home, due to after-school and evening activities. And so this blog will also return to a reprised version of The Week in Suppers. First edition coming tomorrow. Look for (mostly) vegetarian meal ideas, as our family attempts to go vegetarian for a month. Stay tuned.

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