trampoline kids at dusk; not food-related …
**Monday’s menu** Noodles in broth. Spinach salad with strawberries and sunflower seeds.
**Last-minute** I was doing a writing week, of sorts, so our babysitter stayed until late, and I had little time to throw something on the table before the girls’ dance class at 6. Leftover noodles went into homemade stock. Admittedly unexciting, even jazzed up with Chinese five-spice. But the salad was a hit.
**Tuesday’s menu** Black bean chili with steamed rice.
**Oops** Again, it was a writing afternoon, and I was late letting our babysitter go (she actually had to knock on the office door because her husband was here to pick her up!). And then I realized supper had to be whipped up from scratch in about twenty minutes. Which is exactly how much time it takes to steam white rice on the stove-top. Leftover black beans were quickly turned into chili, thanks to my home-canned tomatoes, and a bag of last-summer’s frozen corn. This was the evening that we realized we have only one car. Which we do know, but somehow temporarily forgot. That meant six people gobbling supper and racing out the door en masse. AppleApple and I were dropped at the field forty-five minutes before warm-up officially started. But we made lemonade out of these lemons, and had a blast practicing together in the warm sunshine.
**Post-soccer-tableau** Arriving home at nearly 9pm, with tired children in tow, it is not the most thrilling sight to view upon the table: the abandoned meal and accompanying dirty dishes. Sigh.
**Wednesday’s menu** Salmon roasted on the bbq, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli.
**Last-minute, again** I invited my former boss, Noah Richler, to come for supper before his reading in Waterloo, and he accepted, and was kind enough to remind me, when I worried, that he comes from a family of five children and is familiar with kid-induced chaos. It was another writing day, and I decided to ignore the messy state of the house. Before dashing off to the girls’ piano lessons, I scrubbed a bunch of potatoes and put them in the oven. When Albus called my cell to say he and friends were home from school, I instructed him to turn on the oven. This works really well, actually. On the way home from piano, I swung by our local fishmonger and bought 3 pounds of beautiful salmon. Kevin cooked it perfectly. We were again racing against the clock as I’d discovered at around 4pm that CJ had his “congraduation” from nursery school starting at 6pm — and that he really wanted to go (cake and juice had been promised!). But with some good team-work, supper was on the table and we dined with enough time.
**Passable** I would categorize this meal as bland, but fine. The salmon was tasty. Everything else was terribly plain. I put salt and pepper on the table.
**Thursday’s menu** Leftovers: baked potatoes warmed up, with chili and rice.
**Uninspired** But it saved me time.
**Friday’s menu** Hot dogs and buns from Bailey’s pickup. Plus roasted asparagus, and cherry tomatoes.
**Easy-peasy** No rush, no hurry. A late meal, because we had swim lessons first, and then Bailey’s pickup (Bailey’s is our go-to source for much wonderful local food), but the kids snacked on cheese sticks and pretzels and we enjoyed relaxing around the table together. And then we watched Modern Family! A perfect end to a busy week.
**Saturday’s menu** Pad thai with shrimp and tofu; hot and sour soup.
**Because** We had all the ingredients on hand, and I received a burst of energy at the end of the day, when Kevin arrived home from his training class. It cheered me up to cook and feel productive after a lazy, rainy, blustery, quiet, indoors day.
**Leftovers** We ate the leftovers for Sunday’s supper, along with carrots. And that’s the week!
Now, what’s on the menu for this week ….?
bread dough rising
**Monday’s menu** Sweet potato coconut soup (crockpot). Bread. Cheese.
**Veggies** I think there are enough veggies in the soup to skip the side. This recipe is a winner every time.
**Tuesday’s menu** Chili in the crockpot (with hamburger and spinach). Baked rice. Tortilla chips.
**Rush, rush, rush** Eaten in the half-hour turnaround between swim lessons and soccer. I love the crockpot for it’s ability to turn out hot meals on days when I’m out of the house from 9-5.
**re hamburger** I’ve been buying one package of local, organic, drug-free hamburger on occasion. I have no explanation/excuse. Clearly we are not vegetarian, at least not entirely. But we do continue to eat meat sparingly. She says, and then remembers Thursday’s menu. Ahem.
**Wednesday’s menu** Red sauce with basil and tofu. Spaghetti.
**Easy-peasy** Whipped this up after piano lessons. Thank you, home-canned tomatoes and frozen basil.
**Thursday’s menu** Baked beans in the crockpot. Hot dogs. Store-bought buns. Confetti kale (fried kale with grated carrots).
**I know, I know** This is weird meal for us. We rarely eat hot dogs and when we do it’s summertime and they’re on the grill and they’re local and nitrate-free. These were yer basic tube o’ sodium & fat. Here’s the story: AppleApple went to an outdoor education centre on Thursday, and the children were invited to bring hot dogs to roast over the fire. We bought last-minute grocery store dogs. She took two. Which left us with a package of hot dogs minus two. Just enough for supper, so I made a theme meal of it. I personally skipped the dog and ate beans on a bun with toppings. A couple of the kids tried that out for their third helpings, with ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. It was okay. But the confetti kale was fantabulous.
**Friday’s menu** Church supper. Spaghetti with meat sauce. Green salad. Cookies and squares.
**No dishes** ‘Nuff said.
**Weekend kitchen accomplishments** Four loaves of bread. Batch of middling carrot muffins. Vat of turkey stock to freeze.
Fooey with her orange tea
**Cooking with kids** Fooey’s menu for Saturday’s supper: Chinese theme. Cod fish cakes (these were really good!). Orange tea. Miso soup (technically Japanese; but an easy favourite). Ginger and snowpea noodles. Ginger chicken. Fruit with chocolate sauce.
**Please help!** We have an excess of carrots in the crisper! In fact, carrots have entirely taken over the crisper. What’s the solution? My carrot muffins were an utter failure (my muffins always are; maybe I’m over-mixing?). Carrot soup? Carrot cake? Tossing grated carrot into absolutely every dish? What’s your favourite carrot recipe?
**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.
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?)
**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.
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.
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).