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A Week in Suppers: 3

Monday supper. Whole chicken “roasted” in crockpot with garlic and lemon. Steamed rice (or leftover quinoa) on the side. Brussel sprouts in brown butter with walnuts. Salad made of leftover spinach and bean sprouts, plus grated carrot, in a tamari dressing. Thumbs up around the table. Next time, I will not use the whole lemon inside the chicken. It flavoured the meat quite strongly, which was not to everyone’s liking. (Just realized the carcass got composted, and I did not make stock from it, as planned). And while the crockpot version of roasted chicken can’t beat the flavour of oven-roasted chicken, the ease with which this meal was prepared was totally worth the trade-off. I had to go to the doctor in the morning to get my eye woes seen to, and after school I took the kids to Factory Shoe to get them all new running shoes. Which they wore to school the next day, before spring was foiled by Wednesday’s heavy snowfall. Except I bought the wrong size for CJ. In fact, I bought him the size and style identical to the ones he wears at nursery school. Argh! So we’ll have to make a return trip.

Tuesday supper. Sweet-and-sour chicken and tofu, with carrots and onions. Baked rice and steamed broccoli. Wow, this was a fabulous meal. I got complaints from no one. I was on my own with the kids for supper (Kevin ate alone, when he got home from work). The two older kids don’t like tofu, but there wasn’t enough leftover chicken meat to fill out the stir-fry, so I combined both proteins, and dished out one or the other. I loved this meal so much; I must post the sweet-and-sour recipe. Kevin played the final of his soccer tournament, then went on to his last hockey of the season, and ended his own personal triathlon at Ethel’s taco night.

Wednesday supper. Baked black beans with sausage in the crockpot. More rice. Cabbage salad with mayo/cider vinegar dressing. The baked black beans were my attempt to mix up the usual chili flavour, with middling success. They were sweetened with molasses and brown sugar. But I had great success cooking them in the crockpot overnight, and adding in the rest of the ingredients the next morning. It should have been a snow day, but it wasn’t. When the snow was still falling thickly by school pick-up time, I decided to pass on our music lessons. But supper was still eaten in a rush because I’d planned to go to a yoga class, to make up for the class missed due to Kevin working late yesterday evening; this required elaborate scheduling. We gulped our food and ran in a variety of directions, with limited success: the class was hard and I felt tired and sick and wished I hadn’t gulped down quite so many baked beans; a pair of soccer shoes were taken out of a bag and left on the living-room floor; by the time the soccer dad and soccer kids had discovered the missing shoes, they were in the midst of a snow-caused traffic jam and ended up missing practice. And I forgot to take a photo at the table.

Thursday supper. Rice pilaf to use up all the leftover rice. Ginger carrot soup. As I said to a friend who was over for lunch, “It sounded good to me.” The ongoing dilemma: do I cook for the kids’ tastes, or my own? A bit of both, really, and in this case, I knew the pilaf wouldn’t be loved by all, but it sounded delicious to me, and included toasted sunflower seeds. Unfortunately, the leftover rice ended up creating more leftover rice, this time in pilaf form, so I was back to square one. To add to the pilaf, I chopped up a block of queso fresco, a mild Latin-American soft cheese, and the kids gobbled it up plain. The soup was fabulous. I added a cup of toasted cashews and pureed everything together and the flavour was out of this world. Our basement was getting repaired yesterday and today, a muddy business, fortunately contained down below. I skipped a yoga class to enjoy supper with the whole family, and after some frantic post-supper machinations, Kevin and I got out the door together to our kundalini yoga class. It ain’t easy, getting the both of us out the door at the same time on a school night.

Friday supper. A sirloin roast in the crockpot with red wine and garlic. Mashed potatoes. More cabbage salad, this time with grated carrot too. My mother-in-law Alice was here for a visit. We all ate together between skating and soccer, though Kevin and AppleApple had to rush. I made an absolute vat of potatoes. I was extremely pleased with how everything turned out, but didn’t receive an endless stream of glowing compliments, as seemed fitting (c’mon kids, throw the chef a bone). If we could afford it, and if it were good for us, I’d make roasts more often; but it’s definitely special occasion food. We buy all of our meat from local farmers, most of it organically raised, and it is not cheap. But I actually believe that’s a good thing: we eat less meat as a result, and get the bulk of our protein from beans and legumes. Better for everyone and everything.

Saturday supper. Shepherd’s pie made with leftover mashed potatoes and beef, plus added hamburger, plus gravy made from drippings, plus the rest of that carrot soup to add some vegetable matter. More cabbage salad. And fresh-baked bread! With extra-old cheddar on the side. I went to the freezer to look for peas and discovered we’ve eaten all of the peas! And all of the green beans! And all of the corn! The only veg left is some steamed beet greens. I wonder why. I accomplished a lot today, too much to list. But the lovely thing was that Kevin got home in time for supper, and we enjoyed a glass of wine, and then Alice put the kids to bed while Kevin and I slipped out to a movie–Barney’s Version. Loved it. See it!

Sunday supper. Leftover surprise. Rice pilaf baked with cheese on top. Cold shepherd’s pie. Cabbage salad. Dill smoked salmon I’d gotten on impulse at the grocery store (ridiculously–almost suspiciously–on sale), with rye crackers. Nobody was terribly excited or surprised. But AppleApple spent the afternoon at a birthday party, and Albus didn’t feel like cooking, and the basement was desperate for a thorough cleaning, so Kevin devoted his afternoon attention to that instead. It wasn’t a hard meal for me to prepare. I also made yogurt and baked ginger cookie squares, which are delicious, but for the second time in a row overflowed the pan while baking. I need to solve this problem. Two pans? Casserole pans rather than baking sheets? I will figure this out. The kids played happily together after supper, and even practiced piano and doing homework without grumbling. The basement is clean. And Kevin and I had a scheduling meeting of epic proportions to cap off the day, and the week, over a warm cup of tea. I love scheduling meetings. I probably love them more than is right and proper. I went to bed a happy woman. (With leftover leftover leftover rice pilaf in the fridge).

A week in suppers: 2

Monday supper. Veggie beef soup in crockpot (made with one steak that simmers all day in the tomato-y liquid until it is rendered meltingly soft). Cornbread. Cut up raw veggies. Albus doesn’t like cornbread, which is a pity, but there’s always someone who doesn’t like something. Fooey didn’t like the soup–too much corn. The corn and green beans were from last summer, frozen. That’s it for the green beans. Albus had a friend over for a sleepover. They went to bed very sweetly and slept soundly until about 5 the next morning, when they woke up and decided to play wii. Mama Bear, up for an early spin class, did some growling, and they turned it off and went back to bed. For half an hour. It’s the thought that counts.

Tuesday supper. Chili in the crockpot. Were the black beans leftover from the week before, or did I cook them up fresh on Monday? I can’t remember. I also made yogurt at some point this week, perhaps today. I made a vegetarian version of chili, with few additions. Baked rice and baked squash on the side. The squash was divine–one of the last remaining in the cold cellar, a sweet keeper variety. I love a good orange veggie in this lean month of March. I also baked a tray of ginger cookie-bars that morning. We’d had friends over for lunch (leftovers and sandwiches), and I was tired, on this the second day of March break. Not so much napping with all the kids home. I skipped yoga and went to bed early.

Wednesday supper. Tortilla wraps baked in the oven, using the leftover beans from the chili, the leftover squash, the leftover red peppers, the leftover rice, and some freshly grated cheese. Assembled by Kevin, who came home early so that I could go to a yoga class and regain my sanity. Big thumbs up from everyone. I ate late, alone. Kevin made two especially for me, and heated them up for me when I got home. He also did the dishes. Then we watched a movie together as a family: School of Rock. Must be said, I’m starting to enjoy March break.

Thursday supper. Spring is in the air! And drunken university students are stumbling in their green mini-skirts down the street. Must be Saint Patrick’s Day. I took the kids to a movie this afternoon: Yogi Bear. Supper was simple and good. And green. A big bowl of pasta with homemade pesto (toasted pecans and sunflower seeds, basil from the freezer, olive oil, two cloves of raw garlic, salt). Buttered green peas, frozen last summer. A big green salad using up the last of our local greens from Bailey’s buying club. Apple-Apple said it was the best dressing ever (olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and tamari). Fooey said the pasta wasn’t green enough. The cook’s feelings were hurt, and Fooey wasn’t invited to the table until she apologized. We have a rule: no complaining about the food that is set before you. Well, smallish complaints are okay. It’s okay to say, for example, This isn’t really my favourite. It’s not okay to say, Yuck! Disgusting! There is not way I’m ever going to eat that! Add: That pasta is not green enough! to the verboten list. (Especially if said with a certain whiny disgust and disdain). The good news is: she apologized. The other good news is: Kevin discovered two cans of Guinness in the basement.

Friday supper. “Leftover surprise.” In other words: I cleared out the fridge (this is the after photo). It was actually quite a spread. Leftover pasta with pesto. Two kinds of soup (the chili, without the majority of its beans, was a bit thin). A fresh loaf of bread gifted to us by a neighbour. Cheese, butter. The kids had skating, but no soccer. The evening was blissfully free, so naturally I filled it with baking: I made granola and breakfast pitas. After the kids were in bed, Kevin and I caught up on my favourite tv shows (currently): Parks and Rec, and 30 Rock.

Saturday supper. Macaroni and cheese, baked in the oven. The kids ate it, and I didn’t take a photo. Instead, I took a photo of me and Kevin dressed up and ready to go out for supper at a fancy restaurant uptown. Whoo-hoo! (Though after the photo was taken, we both changed our minds about our outfits and fancied ourselves up a bit more). The day contained a strange mixture of activities: I ran 18km in the morning, came home and quickly showered and changed to go to the funeral for my kids’ crossing-guard, came home and picked up all the toys spread all over the house after a week of March breaking (with help from Kevin, but sadly, very little from the kids–which is our doing, not theirs–we need to get them helping more regularly), and then I made supper for the kids. Kevin and I ate a bowl each, too, because our reservation wasn’t til 8:15. For my supper, I had: a mojito-like martini, smoked salmon with house-made onion rings, a salad of escarole and sheep’s milk cheese, a sirloin steak with green beans and potato croquettes, and an apple donut-like dessert with whipped cream, with the first three courses paired with wines, and the last with a decaf cafe au lait. Put your hands in the air!

Sunday supper. Fooey’s menu: make-your-own-soup, with steamed homemade wontons, noodles, spinach, bean sprouts, and shrimp. I helped season up the broth, which was made from frozen homemade stock (I added miso and tamari). Kevin and Fooey are wonton experts–this is the second time they’ve made them, and he grinds together shrimp, spinach, ginger root, cilantro, and last night he added leftover peas when the stuffing ran low. Thumbs-up from around the table. Something for everyone. Kevin and I tag-teamed the dishes, and ran around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get organized for school/work/routine the next morning. It was a late night, but I went to bed with the feeling that everything was under control.

Time Management

I’m taking way less photos: post-365 project, I have to remind myself to pick up the camera. In one sense, I think it’s a good thing. Rather than recording happy moments, I’m simply living them. But in another sense, I want those moments recorded … or at least a few of them.

I’ve been writing less here, and more on the sister site that records my triathlon training. The time spent on that other blog is reflective of the time and energy that is going into the project; and is therefore also not going into other endeavors. I have to pick one project and stick with it, like I did with the 365; and am now doing with the triathlon. There isn’t time for more than one obsessive side-pursuit. But I am continuing to write (fiction) during writing days, and the parenting is omnipresent. As is the cooking. If I’m having a day when it feels like nothing much is getting done, all I have to do is whip up a batch of something–yogurt, pickles, pitas, bread, granola bars, chicken stock–and suddenly the day is productive. That’s all it takes. A couple loaves of banana bread.

I want to describe our past Saturday, for the record. It was a scheduling marvel. And I will need to be as or more marvelous in the Saturdays to follow to continue pulling everything together.

7:30am: Everyone up. The good news is that 7:30 now qualifies as “sleeping in” for me, since I am up three mornings a week at 5:15 (and may add a fourth starting this week, if I can hack it).
8:30: I’m in running gear and off for my planned “long slow run” of the week, only my second, so it’s 12km. That takes me an hour and fifteen minutes. The kids play wii. I think Kevin gets them breakfast. Nothing fancy.
9:45: Apple-Apple leaves with a friend (yay for carpooling!) to go to her Singer’s Theatre rehearsal.
10: Fooey is picked up by a friend to play. I have time to shower and gulp something down, then head out in the truck with grocery bags to load up on the weekly essentials. Done. Turn on radio. Enjoy a few minutes en route to Singer’s Theatre.
11:30: Pick up Apple-Apple and friends and return them home, also picking up Fooey on the way back to our house.
Noon: unload groceries, eat, grab yoga gear.
12:30: Albus walks to friend’s house for playdate.
Same time: On way to yoga, I pick up a birthday gift for a party Fooey’s going to this afternoon.
1:00: Lying on back in hot yoga class. Ahhhh.
2:20: Home again, just missing handing off gift, as Fooey luckily scores a ride to the party with friend. This bums me out more than it should (the missed present-drop-off, I mean). My scheduling precision is off! By a hair! Kevin points out he can drop off gift at end of party, and in any case, Fooey has made a homemade card.
2:30: Rehydrate and snack. Start making giant pot of chicken stock to freeze for later. Start making yogurt. Kevin heads out with Apple-Apple for her 4:00 soccer practice, now apparently a regularly feature of our Saturday afternoons.
5:30: Kevin picks up Fooey and friend from birthday party.
6:00: Chicken stock stored in freezer, yogurt growing bacteria on counter, and children being fed warmed up “mashed potato soup” and bread.
6:30: My mom arrives to babysit. I apply eyeshadow. Rather too much. Wish I could take some off but there’s no time. Decide not to add a necklace to balance it out.
6:45: Kevin and I exit hurriedly, walk uptown, only slightly late for our dinner reservation.
7:00: Debating: should we order a bottle or wine or cocktails? Go with wine. Good choice.
10:30: Home in bed.

He got up the next morning for a 90-minute yoga class. I made waffles and bread and opted for the late afternoon yoga class.

It’s the busyness of all of our lives, and attempting to coordinate the variety of activities and socializing–including that of the parents–that makes my head whirl sometimes. I said to Kevin recently: Just when I think I’ve got this scheduling thing totally under control, a few more variables crop up and I have to take it to a whole different level. I expect to earn my elite gold star in scheduling shortly. After which, the demands will go up to platinum. Because we haven’t even begun to factor CJ’s interests and activities into our lives. He will have to wait til he’s at least five to get interests and activities.

And then someday, before I can blink, our kids will all move out, and I’ll be left with a set of superior organizational skills and a need to apply them somewhere. Look out world.

Okay, This Feels Like Christmas

I have been feeling rushed. Wishing there were more hours in the day. Or that I could get by on less sleep. And that there were more time to give to my my family, especially my husband. But this afternoon, I got a little taste of what I’ve been anticipating: the kids decorating gingerbread at the counter. (Tricia, this is your gingerbread recipe: delicious!).

Dear Diary,

I am in between. This is perpetual. Why do I need to keep discovering it as if it were brand new?

The dishes will never be done: I will turn around only to discover someone eating another bowl of granola with pearsauce. Today’s batch of bread will get eaten before the week’s out–all four loaves. And the cookies. And the yogurt, and anything else that I make. We will run out of canned tomatoes, perhaps before spring.

I will sign a book contract. It will feel provisional rather than triumphant. I will remember all the steps yet to be completed. (Like the manuscript.) It will remind me that Hair Hat never felt quite done either, even after I saw it in print.

My children will grow, but I won’t be done with them.
I will fill pages, but I won’t be done with words.
I will get up at 5:40am to run. But I won’t be done running.

None of this is discouraging; or, it shouldn’t be. To be in between is to be alive.

I am in between.
And I need my bed, just now.

Yours, Carrie

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