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S is for Stack It Up

Kids really enjoy stacking up their own foods… last night it was burger night. While Diana was stuck on the Malahat (stopped for 45 min due to an accident, happily knitting away…), the rest of the family was busy stacking it up: IMG_1253 IMG_1254 IMG_1259

“Daddy day” is every 2nd Friday, and most Saturdays, while Diana works some hours (contracting private pediatric OT services). Yesterday Diana met a child who only eats about 5 foods, if you can call them foods: chocolate, triple chocolate muffin from Tim H’s, chocolate bear paws, chocolate pudding (in a package), chocolate ice cream, Kraft Peanut butter (when I was there she even rejected this preferring instead to remove peanut butter from between 2 mini-Ritz crackers), and the one savory food, Fish Crackers. Where does a foodie like me start?? It is a delicate balancing act.

Kurt took pictures yesterday to give you an idea of his “Daddy days”:

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We both agree we need child-size tools for Christmas!

Bean Burgers (adapted from recipe in Vegetarian Manifesto): 1c chopped onion, 4 cloves garlic (minced), 1/2c grated carrots – saute these first. Then mix all in a bowl: 3c cooked pinto or kidney beans, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustart, 2 Tbsp soy sauce (we use Bragg), 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1.5 c rolled oats, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1.5 tsp chili powder (or 1 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp coriander), salt and pepper. Squeeze it all together hard with your hands, so the beans pop open and mix with the rest (can use a masher I suppose too!). Form into patties, cook 5 min on each side in a greased pan. Serve with tomato, lettuce, avocado, onion… stack it up!

 

 

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R is for Rancho

IMG_1207 I was all set for R is for Relaxing (this is a pre-school and pre-work morning hot tub yesterday!), when our RANCHO arrived!

Rancho Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit are simply amazing. They ship wholesale orders for free, the case goods come vacuum packed and fresh as can be. For this family that tries to go easy on dairy & grain, these nuts & seeds are a staple. And dried fruit is such a treat! This year we went for the dried mango and apricot. I budget for this over the year (roughly about $100/month). The best part is I don’t have to go out and shop, which I much appreciate. Here is the order, as it arrived this year:

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We have been ordering for a few years now, can’t recall exactly when I started this. Now we have an entire freezer dedicated to store just our Rancho products… particularly as things warm up in the spring it is great to keep them cool and fresh, and of course pest free! More and more over the years I am being drawn into the organic products – and at the case prices this becomes more affordable for sure. Here are the organic pumpkin seeds:

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Soak these for 6 hours, and they make an awesome dip mixed with cilantro or parsley! (recipe below). Tonight we also opened the vacuum sealed pack of cashews (blended with coconut milk & coconut flour & eggs makes amazing waffles!). Janelle was quite amazed hearing the air suck into this bag after it was cut! And, finally, the pile headed for storage tonight in the freezer.

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Pumpkin Seed Dip (better than it sounds by the ingredient list, trust me!): 1c pumpkin seeds (presoaked 6 hours!), 1c parsley (I have subbed cilantro with great success!), 1 garlic clove, 1/4 tsp sea salt (I am probably more generous), pinch of cayenne, juice of one lemon and 2 Tbsp olive oil (I might be more generous here too). Original recipe calls for 1 inch fresh ginger too but I have never gone that route yet. Drain seeds and mix all in food processor or good blender until as coarse/smooth as you like.

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Q is for Quiescent

Being at rest. Quiet. Still. Inactive or Motionless.

Years ago, one of my goals was to find an activity I would enjoy doing that was quiescent. I chose guitar – I played for a while, I could even “noodle” and play sheet music. Then I dropped it. I tried my hand at meditation. I really wanted a hobby that was sedentary in nature. I have the habit of being in constant motion, and I felt I could learn a lot from stillness.

More than 7 years later, and I have learned to knit – but hardly ever sit down to do it (unless I can multitask by knitting while sitting in a course or meeting). I quite enjoy reading, but only manage a few minutes before dozing off (I was better when I was in a book club as then it felt like my “assignment” to read!!).

One thing I LOVE is being hot. I am hardly ever too hot, even in 3 wool sweaters! So, I think I have finally found my quiescent activity:

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That’s me in our infrared sauna tube, borrowed from a friend this week. I could get used to this! I just love being cozy. And I am literally trapped, with a timer on for 1 hour. I cannot move (as you can see) and be distracted. I am learning to enjoy less stimulation and muscle activity. And I get to be warm while doing it!

Speaking of “less”, I really enjoyed this article. As we approach Christmas in our family, it seemed this author hit the nail on the head. We are so fortunate here in Canada. Grateful for all we have and looking forward to the relationships we will make in our new locale here on Vancouver Island.

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P is for Party

We had many reasons to celebrate this weekend. First, my parents bought a house a 3 min walk from ours! Through a lovely little path, it will be a new beginning for us all. The best part is, they are so THRILLED! Fun to see my parents so excited:

IMG_1160 Second, it was Stefan’s 2nd birthday celebration. Here they are waking up on this exciting Sunday Funday:

IMG_1195 We hosted our first dinner party for the occasion, with friends Lesley, Geoff, their daughter Skyla, and Lesley’s mother Samantha, both sets of grandparents! Serving up corn, kamut, and wheat spaghetti, homemade Malbec wine, to go with all the ‘potluck’ contributions of the guests! Lesley helped me host, yay! (this is not my favorite role)

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Lesley is a raw foodie extraordinaire!! Look at the cake she gifted Stefan for his birthday… it weighed 4.4 lbs!! Full of raw food goodness (recipe coming soon!):

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Our first gathering in our livingroom, it was very warming.

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O is for Organize

My girls love to organize. Mostly other people. Often each other. Right now in quiet time Daria is busy “organizing” a birthday party for when Stefan and Janelle wake up. Sometimes the synergy is amazing. Many times this desire to organize each other creates (as you can imagine) a few friction points!

Either way… these skills will serve them well one day! So far Stefan is often a willing participant. Here is Janelle organizing him a bed:

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Let me tell you it is not the task that matters. It is HOW they go about this task – with such detail, description (out loud) and dedication and the LENGTH of time they spend doing each task. It is incredible. One day this week these skills served us (Kurt and I) very well. I actually cried of happiness. Read on for the story…

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Daria, home from school with an outstanding cough, had a spark! Immediately, midday, she was sharing her idea with me (at mock speed without taking any breaths): “mom, at school they have table helpers and dish helpers. the table helpers clear the table while the dish helpers do all the dishes. the teachers choose who is who and you never know… if the dish helpers finish first they help the table helpers, but if the table helpers finish first they do not help the dish helpers. there is not enough space… mom, we should try this at home… (and she continued one with more details)”. I cannot keep up with most of these dialogues. My brain is just not fast enough and cannot process the amount of information each day that they come up with. There are usually lots of “and then”, “okay?” and “got it?” involved!

BUT, this time I caught the idea and she hooked me on one phrase “try it at home”. Most of the rest of the details I missed. Of course, we tried it! I chose Janelle as dish helper and Daria as table helper. They both attacked their roles with a FERVOR we have never ever seen:

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Eventually they directed Kurt and I to the couch to “just hang out”. We sat still and stared into each others’ eyes (so peaceful – it has been too long!) while they cleaned up from the entire dinner. And then when their proud little faces came into view I BURST into tears:

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I think having a little more couch time with my husband could serve my emotional self very, very well. And I thanked you girls from the bottom of my heart. And cried. You overflowed my bucket.

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N is for Nori

We have an exciting week this week. One, we have a birthday boy, turning two!

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Second, Diana’s parents have some very exciting news… perhaps you can discern what it is from Daria’s art project, about to be sent to them in the mail:

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When celebration is in order, our family often throws a Japanese themed evening. Miso soup, homemade sushi…. YUMM! With five big appetites in our house, homemade sushi is FAR more affordable and almost as good!!

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I just bought a huge pack of Nori, though the quality is not as good as some of the smaller packs. The sushi rice is easy to make – 1c rice to 2c water, cooked with a bit of salt. When done stir in 1 Tbsp sweet (maple syrup, sugar) and 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or apple cider, or…). Let cool on counter, then cool in fridge. As for the rolling… I’m sure a You Tube video would do a better job than I could, but I do use a ziploc bag on top of my rolling mat so that I can flip the seaweed after putting the rice on (bowl of water handy for fingertips so rice doesn’t stick). I love rice on the outside!

The Miso soup is a REBAR recipe… I don’t worry if I am missing spinach or sesame seeds, or… it is easy to improvise!

Miso Soup: Take 2+ tbsp small pieces of seaweed (I use Hijiki or Arame), soak in 3.5c boiling water. Add 3 Tbsp Soy Chili Sauce (easy to make below or just use soy sauce). Stir in 4 Tbsp of Miso (I use Gen Mai) using a whisk to stir well on low heat until dissolved. Cook Soba noodles separately (there are spelt and kamut ones out there). Chunk up 1/2 pkg tofu into 1/2″ cubes (optional) and throw them in. Warm it all up, add chopped spinach, green onions, toasted sesame seeds if you like. The trick is not to boil this soup as it reduces the value of the miso somehow. I keep the noodles in the colander and dish into each separate bowl, but you can also put them into the big pot. 

Soy Chili Sauce (also amazing for stirfry, marinade, drizzle on vegetables): 3 gloves garlic, 1/2 tsp chili flakes (I leave these out), 1 tbsp sesame (or other) oil, 1 tsp vegetable oil (I use olive), 3/4c soy sauce (I use Braggs), 3/4c vegetable stock or water, 1/4c honey. Stir all this up in a pot, then bring to boil. Mix 1/2c cold water and 2 tsp cornstarch (separately). Pour this into the pot in a slow stream, simmer for 5 min or until thick and glossy. They say to refrigerate for 1 week though I have been known to go longer… a month?!?

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M is for “Make It Up”

This week I arrived home from a 6 night trip with the children… to this fridge:

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Notice the empty fruit drawer, the empty veggie drawer, the empty cheese drawer… no milk; the blue lid container is an experiment – week+ old broccoli!! The blue liquid is watercolor paint. What did Kurt eat while we were gone? I still have not asked! Since we don’t own any packaged, instant type meals or food AND we already ate eggs and potatoes for breakfast…I knew I was going to have to either 1) spend my treasured “home day” with my 2 littles in the stores, or 2) creatively make “something out of nothing” (great children’s book if you don’t have it!).

I chose #2. I didn’t have it in me to drag the children to the grocery store. Instead we went to the docks to see the sea lions, play on the beach, and in our favorite Hecate Park. When we arrived home I started with an onion, pulled from our 50 lb sack in the shed. Here is my helper starting us off:

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We began making it up… adding cabbage, yams, carrots and celery my mom brought us, we came up with a basic veggie soup simmered for 1.5 hours (basic recipe in this hilarious book):

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What about protein? I relied on a faithful recipe using red lentils, transforming them into a dahl type dish that doesn’t look like much, but is in fact quite delicious served with buns and butter (and soup!). And cheap as dirt too!! Everyone in my family gobbled these 2 dishes for dinner AND lunch the next day! Yah!

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Lynda’s lentils: 1 onion, garlic, 2c red lentils (dry), 1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz), 4c water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1.5 tsp ground coriander. Simply saute the onion and garlic (add some or lots of oil if you want a richer meal), add the lentils, tomatoes and water. Once boiling simmer at lowest temp possible, stirring often about 25 min. Add spices and serve with bread, roti, and if you like yogurt and cilantro.