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I is for Ingenuity

Ingenuity. Def. Quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful. This is key to fun with food! Years ago (Aug 2009 to be exact) I visited N. in Toronto, and she first served me “overnight french toast”. While this is not particularly healthful, it is not bad… butter, eggs, maple syrup, milk, and… bread! All real foods.

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She, being in Toronto, served this with amazingly fresh challah bread. Not knowing where to find challah in Vernon, nevermind spelt challah, what did I decide? This could be a great way to use up stale, frozen bread ends and bits of buns, etc. we all collect in the freezer. If there is one “pet peeve” I have, it is wasting food. Four years later, and as long as I remember to throw it in the freezer, our family has never tossed a stale piece of bread! Love it.

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Daria never loved this dish, and over the years I’ve rarely offered it again, the kids always eat some other (usually more healthy!) choice. Today, they all had “second breakfast”, sharing in this new gooey delicacy. Gave us energy for our huge day… it was planned as a big one, full of connected ness and love, and when  those plans fell through, we followed other open doors. Victoria to visit fabulous 20+ year friend J. and her two wee ones:

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And then off to new friend L.’s house, whose connection to horses is hands down gorgeous:

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What did we talk about? You got it, food!

Overnight French Toast: The night before, lay 5 slices or approx same amount of bread (as in photo above for 9×9 pan). Mix 1c milk and 3 eggs. Pour over bread and push bread in a bit (most of it will just soak in overnight no matter what it looks like at start). Put in fridge for the night. In morning, take out of fridge. Melt 1/4-1/3c butter (I go heavy side) and while it is melting flip the slices in the pan (so most moist side is facing up). Sprinkle 1 tsp cinnamon on top of bread. Pour melted butter on, Pour on 1/4-1/3c maple syrup (I go light side). Then put in oven. Finally, last step TURN ON OVEN and let preheat with pan inside (since glass is cold from fridge). Once reached 350F, bake for 25 min. Then flip bread over and bake another 15-20 min. YUMM! 

 

 

 

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H is for Honey

We love honey. It is great for baking, on waffles, in tea. Sometimes we eat it off the spoon:

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Bees. Wow, what a wonder how this is made! Every drop is to be treasured. We much miss our experience driving to Armstrong to have our buckets filled by Reg and Diane. Or choosing the awesome Silver Star Apiary at $3/lb, antibiotic free! I have yet to find such a deal here. Recently our source went up to $6.50! I have recently been introduced to Manuka Honey. At about $25/jar it is not for your cooking/food shelves but for your medicine cabinet:

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This brand is made locally here, and they folks who make it also share our daycare. Wow. Doesn’t get much closer to home than that. I haven’t really researched it completely but my friend C is sold, and that stands for a lot. She told me about it as I was in process of moving here… took me a while to get my supply. Now I can feel even BETTER giving my children honey on a spoon, especially when sick or low on immune function. The tea pictured here is my other “go to” when I feel a “niggle” (or worse!) coming on.

Ginger-Lemon Spiced Honey Tea (recipe from C): Grate a tsp or more of fresh ginger (skin removed). Put in a cup. Pour boiling water on it and let it steep. Then stir in a tsp or more of lemon juice (I use fresh or jar of organic), 1/4 tsp Turmeric, 1/4 tsp fennel (keep my milk supply up!) and a dash of cayenne (however much you can handle). Stir in a generous dollop of HONEY! yah! This is not at all appetizing to me when I feel well, but I GUZZLE it when feeling ill and it has served me well. Now my children enjoy the hot ginger-lemon (before I add all the other stuff I pour some off and divvy it up between the 3 of them before bed). Apparently the health benefits of turmeric are phenomenal. C even grates fresh Turmeric but I haven’t got that far yet!

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G is for Gradually Garner…

G is to gradually garner all that you need for food love! Wisdom, equipment, ingredients, bravery… you have a lifetime to acquire what you need. Today I am grateful to have garnered a few tips from wise friends of mine:

1. Make a menu! My very inspiring friend J introduced me to this concept. How freeing! No pressure to come up with ideas spur of the moment, no disappointment in not having ingredients at the ready… for family life, this is wonderful. I make my menu on the weekend, and make my grocery list at the same time (see column to right of one below). Here are my menus the last 2 weeks:

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You can always decide to change something last minute, but you don’t HAVE to! Awesome! Chili and pizza are once-a-weekers in our family, as have become the nutty yam waffles! Potatoes are a new favorite, integrated much more in our life since our dairy-free, grain-free living experience. We are aiming for 1 squash meal per week to support our oldest newly acquiring the taste for this amazing, local winter vegetable.

2. Make special routines and rhythms around food for your family and yourself. Maybe I added food to this piece of wisdom, but the idea is that if you have ritual and rhythm, these will carry your family through hard times. You can turn to those special places in your family’s quilt, and they will comfort you when you feel low on strength and energy (for food!). Here we are at our new “sunday fun day” spot, the local ice cream shop!

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This ice cream is home made with REAL ingredients – the maple walnut has REAL maple syrup, the licorice has REAL anise, it is simply AH-Mazing, especially when the sun shines like today. Here is the view out the other side:

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In Vernon we had a great many familiar and wonderful spots in our family life: bean scene, the tree canopy at the old library, davison orchards… the list goes on. Here we are starting from scratch, making a new quilt. Saturdays I work at being an entrepreneur. Yesterday I could have stayed home, but chose to go sit at “Zoe’s” for tea. On the Cowichan Bay “strip”, Zoe’s “regulars” drop their money in a tin and pour their own coffee. If they short her, they say “get you next time”. She makes all her own baking – carrot cake, pumpkin pie (from a whole BAKED pumpkin!), and she is a lovely lovely presence. She serves a lot of folks with sea legs (who live on their boats). She hosts a Christmas dinner for folks with no where else to celebrate. She sells whole tortiere made with homemade apple cider (folks donate apples to her and she juices them). Here is her shop:

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F is for Flair

Food should have flair. When I cook, I look at what is around and I incorporate ingredients so nothing is wasted. Throw it in, that’s my motto.

My son today chased me around with this hairband saying “in” and pointing to his head. So I threw it in. Flair!

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May these photos be a reminder… Flair! Don’t stick to the same ol’ stuff, try something new. Add something different. Give it some oomph, some pizazz, a dash of this or that… some flair!

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E is for Earth

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This is my new favorite plant. Wintergreen. It is a dynamic accumulator, a concept I was introduced to in my permaculture course… means a lot for sustainability. BUT, you can also eat the berries, and make tea out of the leaves & berries… and it is just a little crawler, keeps away the weeds, does not have deep roots (is not going to choke anything out, easy to rip out and then compost – and thereby adds a TON of nutrients back to your soil). It’s all about earth.

I went to a parent meeting for my daughter’s class this week… the topic reviewed was the Festivals of the year, that fall with the change of the amount of light at different times of year. With a focus on Fall I was introduced to a new concept – that the 12 days around Christmas and New Year the amount of light does not change much… holds steady, and then at Epiphany suddenly each of our days sees a bit more sun! Daria’s teacher used these 12 days in her family life to paint together as a family… and when they are together (now children are 28 and 33!) they still often paint together. Amazing!

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I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to a bit more sunlight come January. E for Earth… dig in it, find bugs, smell it, it is rich! It brings forth so much food and goodness. Today I am grateful for Earth. And for those who conceived me, thus beginning my life here on Earth!

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D is for Daunting

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I don’t want to cook. Yup, it’s true. Sometimes I have no food plan whatsoever and the thought of 5 hungry mouths and NO IDEAS is daunting. Other times I have usually made grandiose plans the night before, like my idea last night to make these Nutty Yam Waffles (recipe below):

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And then I wake up and, the thought of all this effort makes me GROAN. There, I said it. Sometimes I don’t want to cook. At least not EXACTLY when all the little hungry mouths need me to! Do I spend 1/3 or 1/2 of my available time on food?

Shopping, preparing, menu planning of meals, snacks, hubby lunches, preserving excess, making treats/holiday themes, fermenting, ensuring nothing “expires” in my fridge, putting leftovers away (Thankfully my hubby agreed to be the dish man YEARS ago, as long as I kept cooking this way). This source claims the North American average is HALF HOUR a day on these activities. Shocking.

My trouble is I LOVE EATING! I am addicted to wholesome, local, real food that to me says “eat me”. It’s true. I have a hard time settling for anything less. My body knows. My heart knows. And, my kids are starting to make the connection too (addicts in training!). I am passionate about EATING. And so I must cook to keep up!

Yes, stuck with my own dedication, and not being a millionaire (at which point I could afford to eat these types of foods, pre-ch-effed up by someone else! yah!). Sooner or later (today it was later) I must buckle down and throw ingredients together! This afternoon, my family happily designed our garlic patch, while I mostly mucked about with… yup, FOOD! Isn’t their creation beautiful???

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Daria (she’s hiding… see if you can find her!) and Janelle each constructed their own “house”. Awesome. “Supper” (as Stefan says) became a favorite eggplant dish (for 2nd time) and hearty, harvest stuffed squash… bit by bit, a few steps here and there, and a trip to the grocery store for the week’s supplies… et voila:

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I am pleased to say Daria, at 6, gobble the stuffed squash – as her sister left hers aside, Daria said astoundedly “what’s wrong with this meal!??!”. We also won Stefan over on the filling with some great modeling from Daria!! Janelle ate a lot of sui choy!

P.S. just a disclaimer in bold no less (I hope you read this far): I am more than happy to eat ANY VEGGIE MEAL someone else makes… so pleasant, so relaxing, so FUN!!! Awesome dichotomy. My addiction is all my own… as they say “don’t try this at home”

 Nutty Yam Waffles (Variation from Simply in Season): 1/2c coconut oil (melted, topped up with organic butter if I feel like it), 2c yams (cooked and mashed), 6 eggs (beat whites separately, I love fluff), 2 c milk (I used coconut milk, but any will do), 1c flour (I used whole spelt), 1c rolled oats (finely ground, I bought mine like this), 1c walnuts or pecans, 2 Tbsp baking powder (this is a LOT, go light), 1 tsp salt. Directions: I mixed my oats, flour, milk the night before so it can soak making grains much more easily digested (who knew?!?! this is new for me), then I mixed in the rest of the ingredients including the melted oil, and 6 egg yolks (don’t put the yolks right in the hot oil they will cook!). LAST I lightly stir in the egg white. I grease my non-stick waffle iron, at least the first time, just for good measure on these… and I cook them 2x as long as regular waffle batter (for me takes each batch from 1.5 to 3 min). Questions? Just ask. These are DYNAMITE!

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C is for Cooperation

In our family we have a ditty that goes like this: “working together to get something done, sharing the work makes it easy and MUCH MORE FUN!”. This came from a book  we picked up long ago that now is missing pages from being so well loved.

Cooperation in cooking & gardening is no exception. When my children ask “Can I help?” in the kitchen, I aim to always answer “yes, of course!”. The girls can now grate, peel, set tables, chop, crack eggs, and all the kids like to stir, add ingredients, or just climb up on chairs/stools and watch the food action:

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What the pictures don’t show is that usually they end up upset that someone else added the ingredient they wanted to add, got to stir longer, or they push each other off the stool, taking ownership of their space… but it is all good learning! Mediating it can be tiring… and slow down the process… but the answer should still always be “yes!”. These are industrious beings!

At the end of our busy day, our new routine is to curl up in the dark by the fireplace for books. Stefan loves his new “baby” lying next to him, and we all enjoy the string of pumpkin lights we picked up at a garage sale! Awesome find!

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P.S. If you want a craft to cooperate on today, try this one – I did at work today and it was super fun! Only I called them ghosts not mummies. Then we had a ghost picnic!