Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday's Cooking-with-Children Experiment

We're always looking for new ways to include our children in some of the daily routines that keep our household functioning. This is part of my own larger plot to share the burden of unpaid domestic work amongst all the members of the family, as I ease further and further into paid work, again. I would also like to launch my children into the world with a number of useful domestic skills: knowing how to cook and how to shop for nutritious food, how to pick up after themselves, how to entertain themselves, how to notice needs and care for each other. Pretty lofty goals. And it doesn't feel like we have much time to instill these values and skills into our beloved offspring.
I've noticed something: when we write a plan on our large family calendar beside the phone, the plan happens. For a long time, I've been dreaming of cooking a meal, once a week, with a child who is old enough to help out (ie. everyone except CJ, right now, though I'll bet he'd love to try, too). But it's never actually happened with any regularity. So, I decided to write it on the calendar, oldest to youngest, the next three Saturdays. Yesterday was the first, and because it was on the calendar, Albus took it very seriously--and so did I. Plus, we had a great baking/kitchen day. Apple-Apple started by stirring up and kneading bread dough, almost entirely by herself. Fooey was my cookie-assistant. And Kevin covered the granola-baking while I took two eight-year-old boys shopping for pizza-making supplies. Two boys, because Albus had a friend over and the friend expressed interest in helping out. This turned out to be really really fortuitous and so much fun that I'm thinking maybe Apple-Apple would like to invite a friend to include in her cooking adventure next week.
I'd made the dough in advance--in fact, I used an insanely simple fermented dough recipe that has proved mostly successful in its three outings. (It's literally: flour, salt, water, and yeast, stirred together and left to ferment on the counter overnight). The first outing was the best, because I didn't leave time for a second rising on my second attempt. And for pizza dough--it was awesome. So stretchy and moist that the boys were able to spread it on their trays with ease and without assistance. Plus they loved the tactile pleasure of oiling the trays with their hands, smooshing the dough, sprinkling the cheese. An excellent meal choice, Albus. We made tomato sauce in the blender using the same cookbook (My Bread, by Jim Lahey). Can of tomatoes, juice from tomatoes, salt, olive oil, clove of garlic. Rev the engine. Gloop onto the dough and spread with a spoon. Then there was lots of grating of cheese and chopping of pepperoni. I fried the bacon. The red peppers were last summer's, frozen. We never got to the french fry making, the other item on the menu. Maybe next time.
It was such a fun day of cooking together. And what made it all possible was this knowledge in the back of my head that I didn't need to find time to vacuum the whole house ... because we're trying out having a cleaning service come in every other week to do a full cleaning. They will dust. I have never dusted. Should I even confess that? They will vacuum. They will wash the floors. I have never washed the wood floors. Again with the confessions. Stop me now.
I will report back on this experiment.
Because they'll be coming on Wednesday, I am instituting a Tuesday evening tidy and computer time. (Computer time available to those who help with the tidying.) We did a dry run last Tuesday, and Albus was particularly helpful.
Anyway, to sum it up, spreading out the burden of housekeeping freed me up to spend a full day cooking and baking and sharing that time with the whole family. Here's hoping this experiment will prove sustainable.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Parenting Expert Reporting Live

I have not been a good blogger this week and there's a reason. The reason is that I have started writing a parenting column twice a week for a new website that will launch in December. I'll invite you there, when it goes live. Meantime, though there's no direct poaching of subject matter (well, not in the columns I worked on this week), there is a general overlap between the genres. The columns are polished, obviously, and much more topically focused. But are blog-like in that I'm talking about real things that are really happening.

But I need to continue this blog, and push to find a few minutes here and there (like right now--while CJ "washes" every plastic dish in the house in our kitchen sink while standing precariously under-supervised upon a stool with a revolving seat while juggling lit matches ... um, just kidding about that last thing. Please stay calm. And, yes, aren't I eminently qualified to write a Parenting Column? I find myself muttering that on occasion since landing the gig. Hey, this is a great Parenting Column moment. Parenting Expert over here! Please, nobody look!).

Because I haven't blogged most of the week, I've got an overload of topics on the brain. Such as, how has this return-to-school experiment gone? I'll tell you. I'm not a student anymore. It's not part of my identity. It would suck to go back to school for real. It would take some humbling. And a genuine desire to acquire the skills contained within the degree--and to get to the end. That's the only reason I'd go back. If it felt imperative. I've enjoyed stretching my brain, and it's awfully pleasant to spend a couple of hours away from home every Thursday evening, but, hey, I could accomplish that by going for a walk with a girlfriend, and get some exercise to boot. Also, though he hasn't explicitly expressed this, I'm pretty sure Kevin is terrified that I might go back to school. This experiment (ONE CLASS THIS TERM!) has proven how hard it would be on the whole family to launch this mother into a new career. It would be a full-family project, and I wouldn't be the only one making sacrifices. Interesting. Trot over to my Moms Are Feminists Too blog which is where I really should be venting about this subject and discovering creative solutions.

If only I weren't so tired. Topic four. So Tired. I felt so tired this afternoon it was like being extremely hungry, except insert sleep for hunger. And CJ declined to nap. This took me way back, when, after a night spent up with two kids under two, I'd be so exhausted by mid-morning that I'd try for a brief nap on the living-room floor with Apple-Apple crawling on my head and Albus pulling open my eyelids. Good times.

Well. I have managed to rouse myself in order to cook up a delicious-smelling hamburger curry which simmers on the stove behind me now while light-as-air rice is steaming inside a clay pot in the oven while CJ tries out surfing in a giant wok on the kitchen floor (having safely descended). Some of the things mentioned in the last over-long sentence feel like achievements. Actually, they all do, even the surfing undersupervised (and entirely content) toddler. No one's going to grade me on these accomplishments, or, likely, even say thanks, but nevertheless ... the best moment yesterday was walking onto campus and remembering the warmth of the scene I'd left behind: bean/sausage/endive soup and fresh-baked bread upon the table, which one of the children had set without (major) complaint, my family sitting down to eat. (Though apparently both soup and bread struck out with the two youngest, who dined on cereal instead). Nevertheless. It's a scene that takes constant vigilance and effort to conjure, day after day; my life. Ours.

Monday, November 23, 2009

All the Pretty Horses

We arrived early. I used to work with horses and at a stable, and I had a feeling that if we arrived early they just might put us to work, and we just might be really really happy about that. So we did, and they did, and Apple-Apple got her first opportunity to groom a pony. He was a big pony, sleepy and old, and muddy. The smell of horse hair and dust, the sounds of the horses, the sawdusty sight of an indoor arena ... this was supposed to be a birthday gift for Apple-Apple, but honestly, I'm not sure which of us took more delight from it.
Apple-Apple was a natural. No fear. Her pony liked to eat grass, and it took a lot of muscle and determination to wrestle his head up, but she did it, and repeatedly. She said afterward that she only wished she hadn't gotten such a slow pony. In fact, my only concern was her lack of worry, and the way she danced around the horses, forgetting these were animals with hooves and teeth.
As for me, it was like walking back into a familiar landscape, and feeling so very at home. I'd forgotten how that connection to an animal (and for me, especially, to a horse) is unlike any other relationship. You find a different way to communicate. It's elemental. I returned from the adventure utterly rejuvenated. Apple-Apple was elated, filled with confidence and excitement. She cannot wait to do this again.
Um. Me neither.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wish Lists

Christmas 2009

Dear Santa,
I would like a kid dolly and baby dollies and mom and dad dollies too. I would like city playmobil, bus playmobil, school playmobil and the last kind of playmobil is work playmobil like dump trucks. I would like city lego and star wars lego. I would like a story book to read with my mama. I know you already gives candy!
Hmmm ...
I would like a necklace. I want a purple flower pink dress. I want a skirt with pink, purple and green. I would like a mini-store with carts and food and a cash register with money, because you can't even sell anything without money! Also with my store I need a clock to tell the time. I would like a puzzle with a horse and a unicorn playing together with an orphan who rides them.
Thank you. From Fooey.

Dear Santa Claus,
I want some more bakugans. Star wars lego. I would like a star wars lego ship called the republican attack gunship. Some games. Calvin and Hobbes books. Pokemon. Another puffle. a playmobil pyramid. Some posters. Tennis balls. A necklace-making set. A new fish. A bean bag chair. A lego pirate ship. Books. And more toys.
From Albus. To Santa
ho! ho! ho!

Dear Santa,
I would like a star wars ship called a x wing fighter. and could you buld a mini school and put it in our back yard (ps I asked perrmichon.) and a dog. and a camra
From Apple-Apple to Santa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Happy Bithday"

We ran out of frosting. Seriously. And forgot to run the spellchecker on the cake. Somehow, it was perfect anyway. Kevin and I both reflected after the event how much fun we have at our children's birthday parties. There's a bit of food prep and planning involved, but basically, the family party we throw for each child on his or her birthday is pretty simple. Eat, drink, play, cake and candles, and a couple of gifts. We have a slightly different mix of guests every time, but it's generally aunts and uncles, a grandparent (my parents are divorced, so we've come around to the imperfect but liveable compromise of every-other-birthday attendance), and a few family friends. It's always great to toss some extra kids into the mix. Last night, the younger party-goers disappeared to play together, and the grownups were able to linger over the meal.
And she didn't light her hair on fire (quite). And no one got injured racing up and down the stairs following excess sugar consumption. And the gifts were well-received. And the piano was played. And someone else did the dishes.
She woke up this morning in a bit of a glum mood. That day-after feeling. When your birthday is now a whole year away, and it's back to waiting again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Six, then Seven

The night before (still six), and this morning (seven!). The last six-year-old photo gave all of us the giggles, so even though it wasn't the perfect one, I'm using it. The first seven-year-old photo shows her with hair unbrushed (she requested that I not touch it on her birthday), and she's wearing a new necklace she'd just opened up, from Grandma Alice's parcel.
Immediately afterward, chaos broke out as we realized we were late getting ready for the walking school bus ... which it was our responsibility to drive this morning!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Make a Search-And-Find Birthday Cake

Don't stop adding smarties till you've emptied the whole bag.

House-Cleaning, Before and After

Before: children with buns in their hair. Disastrous rooms. Witness the art table (not pictured), its top layered with multiple unrelated items, all craving to be organized and placed back into respective boxes. Sunday afternoon this was what I did, while Kevin tackled the (quite possibly worse) job of cleaning the basement. I ran up and down stairs carrying handfuls of beads, lego, playmobil bits, crayons, garbage, ribbons, matchbox cars, pretend food, masks, dirty socks, you name it. The job tasked my brain. Would I have the strength to complete it, to care enough to complete it? Finally, by about 8pm, the house was clean enough that we could invite someone else to clean it for us. We'd stopped briefly for Chinese take-out, laughing over our fortunes. Mine said that children would bring me contentment. Albus's that his charms would sway the masses. Kevin's that he would find his inner Buddha. Fooey's that greatness is always misunderstood. Can't recall the rest offhand. We briefly thought that CJ had eaten his, then Apple-Apple pretended to eat hers. This was a good family supper, and we lingered. Then, we were back at the cleaning frenzy. Now, if only we had someone to invite over to clean the cleaned-up rooms for us ...
Yesterday, after supper, I noticed the bathroom floor. Generally speaking, it is not a good thing if one notices the floor. Hmm, this could stand to be cleaned properly, thought I. About half an hour later, I got my wish. Note: wishes are not always fulfilled in the ways one imagine they might be. Do not try to replicate this method. Allowing one's daughter to plug up the shower drain with a washcloth--don't. Also don't leave daughter with stopped-up drain and running water completely unsupervised (while helping son practice piano, and other daughter get some mommy-time, while dad gives toddler his bath). Just don't. You might be tempted to, because you can't be in three places at once, and because your dirty floor will forthwith be ever so clean ... but resist temptation. Please.
You see where I'm going with this.
You see the towels pictured above. Yes. There was overflow. Yes, it was impressive, flood-like, and went unnoticed until it was discovered washing in waves across the kitchen floor and pouring like a waterfall into the basement and onto the appliances, the washer, the drier, the freezer ...
Suffice it to say, the parents wielded mops and towels frantically, whilst the children retreated upstairs and fended for themselves. They kept their heads. This bodes well for their future survival in times of crisis. The older ones procured snacks (bananas and apples) and with a little teamwork diapered CJ and dressed him in pajamas (diaper on backwards, but otherwise impressively secured). It was heartening. And we rescued the appliances in time. And we won't have to re-dry-wall the basement walls.
And the bathroom floor? It almost sparkles.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Best Thing Ever

Getting to see the world through his eyes. Naming it. "Catty!" "Rock." "Big tree!" "Birdie?" "House." "Hand, hand." Watching a small purple pinwheel, planted in someone's front yard, spin in the wind. Standing still. Waiting. Being licked on the hand by a dog. Following a cat. "Flower. Leaf. See." Taking an hour to walk around the block.
There's no life like this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Purple Duck Soup

What a mess this house is. What a crumb-cluttered, toy-tossed, almost indescribable state of yuck. Here's a stuffed duck I found inside a pot inside a drawer. Duck soup. We suffered complete pandemonium after tonight's supper, for which there was no explanation. Both parents were too tired to rise from the table to staunch the inevitable tragedy-in-waiting. (Nothing too terrible happened). But, crikey, it was loud. You could have called it downright chaos. Anarchy.
After dish-washing, and lunch-packing, I corralled the older two children into helping me plan out new morning and evening responsibilities. Actually, there's nothing new about any of these, it's just new that we're writing it up and posting it on the wall under the saleable titles of: Happy Day AM!, and Happy Day PM! (Chores, duties, and other words of that ilk did not feel quite so inspiring. Hopefully this is not a case of Orwellian double-speak). Thanks to both Janis and Marnie for their helpful suggestions on organizing and motivating feet-dragging children. We'll see how this works, and for how long ...
In other news, I'm discovering mixed emotions about my women's studies zine/blog project (read the previous post if this is the first you're hearing about it), though perhaps should not be taking its temperature minute-by-minute (curse you, internet, curse you!). Talk about a consciousness-raising project (sadly, it may only be raising my own ...). But I spent part of last night surfing for blogs by feminist mothers, and found ... so much anger and bitterness. Destruction rather than construction. I wonder whether this is the feminist that other women don't want to define themselves as, and whether the word now means something other than what it once did. And maybe I'm a complete naif for never noticing that. I've always rather blithely defined myself as a feminist, without bothering to explain: oh, but not that kind of feminist. But I guess I'm not that kind of feminist, really. I'm not a natural activist, that's for certain. I have an abhorrence toward violence of any kind, and rage causes me deep discomfort. I do recognize there are situations in which rage might be the only response. But I still don't like it. I don't like feeling angry myself or assigning blame. I'm wondering ... can change happen ... gracefully, gently, slowly? Can it be brought about by people asking: how can I make this better? What does better look like? How can I help?
Please go and read the responses to the questionnaire that are coming in. I've posted them here. They're lovely and thought-provoking, and I thank everyone who's taken time to reply. You've got me thinking, too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Moms Are Feminists Too

Hi readers. Could I ask a favour, please? I'm working on a zine project for my women's studies class, and have launched a blog to complement it. Both relate to a recent post on how the personal feels political. The blog is called Moms Are Feminists Too. If you are a feminist and a mother, or even a mother who's thought a bit about feminism, would you consider visiting and responding to my opening questionnaire? It focuses on motherhood, identity, work, and feminism.
I haven't got any brilliant ideas, yet, for change, but basically want to create a forum to discuss how we can make this job of mothering more valued in our culture. Think of these two extreme characterizations of stay-home mothers: yummy mummies and welfare moms. Think of the negative baggage both of those images carry: on the one hand, we have the self-indugent hyper-privileged moms, and on the other, the lazy, uneducated moms. It's mean. And it's prevalent. (Can you think of a different prevailing characterization for motherhood today? If so, I want to know! My fuzzy-mummy brain can't conjure any up ...). (And, yes, I wrote that last sentence on purpose). Stay-at-home dads face similar problems, which makes me think the underlying issue is a general cultural disdain for childcare and children.
Because this is a school-related project, I can't promise it will have legs past the assignment's due date. But then again, maybe it will. Thanks in advance for your help and input!
Note: you don't have agree with everything / anything I'm saying to add your voice to the mix.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Social Event of the Season

This makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside ... to come across, in dear old Blogland, a post about a story I wrote. The blogger is Rebecca Rosenblum, who read at the New Quarterly launch several weeks ago, and whom I'd heard last year, too. She's a young writer with a unique voice and vision. You won't feel like you're reading something ordinary or done-before when you read her. Her first collection of stories is called Once, and I've got a link to her blog Rose-coloured among the CanLit blogs listed on the right. (The book itself is still on my to-read list ...).
In other news, have you been to the social event of the season yet? You know, the swarms of people lining up outside in the cold for hours on end to get ... tickets to a U2 concert? ... into the newest hot hot hot dance club? ... the best ice cream ever invented? Would that it were so. Because at the end of this line-up is a brightly lit room packed with screaming babies and toddlers who had no idea that the climax of all this patient waiting would be a smiling nurse jabbing them with a needle. Whoo-hoo! Let me tell you, the fun never ends at the H1N1 clinics. I was reflecting on how waiting in a long line has a couple of effects, not necessarily good ones. Firstly, it makes you really want whatever you're lined up for. It feels like there's a shortage, and dammit, you're going to get this THING that everyone else wants too--or else! Which, secondly, makes you really resent those queue jumpers slipping semi-apologetically (or not) into the lineup ahead of you. Thankfully, I was able to pull myself back and analyze these negative impulses, and go, hey, I'm not going to do this. I'm not going to coddle my mean-spirit, instead I'm going to be grateful, because the sun is shining, it's quite mild, the kids are behaving, no one's pushing or yelling, and the women working the clinic are super-friendly. Life's too short to wallow. And as we were walking back to our car (hours later, car parked miles away, CJ screaming apoplectically because he wanted to stand on the stroller WHEEL and Could Not Understand Why mean mommy wouldn't let him), along romped the cutest wee puppy, off her leash and squirmy and delightful, and we all got down and petted her and let her lick us and leap all over us, and everything felt much much better. Maybe Apple-Apple will get her wish after all. Maybe a dog is in our family's future. Okay, distant future. But maybe.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, the above photo is a random shot of our kitchen floor. CJ's fave new play area. He drags out every pot and pan in the house, grunting "heaby, heaby" (heavy). I just opened a drawer to discover a flattened purple stuffed duck in a frying pan, underneath a glass lid. Must get a photo of that.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Exhibit Number One

Yesterday evening, I went to class and participated in a faux consciousness raising group, while Kevin fed the kids the shepherd's pie I'd made for supper (a big bust; never add leftover squash assuming it will blend in with the gravy under the mashed potatoes), and took them to a photography exhibit at Kitchener's Rotunda Gallery. He promised them ice cream, and ice cream was found. Albus went with a cut on his eye due to post-supper horsing about. The exhibit is by a friend, Karl Kessler, and the photos are of people who work in vanishing trades, and are accompanied by short interviews.
Spent this morning working. I'm in the early stages of a new project, and the whole search at present is for tone. What baffles me is that the tone for this blog comes so naturally ... why can't that translate to absolutely everything I write? For the current project, I'm seeking a casual and entertaining tone, like a chat with a good girl friend. Not sure whether or not that summarizes this blog's tone. No, I think this is more stream-of-consciousness. Whether or not it's consciousness-raising is up for debate, or more likely beside the point.
PD day ... upcoming afternoon projects include: naptime; walking around the neighbourhood to hand out birthday invitations; and a trip uptown to buy a few essentials. I've heard that there's an Uptown Treasure Hunt or somesuch on right now. Anyone know anything about that?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nice Lid, Kid

Someone likes getting his hair brushed. But is he going to declare us the meanest parents ever, somewhere down the road, for dressing his gorgeous toddler self in a pink sleeper? And photographing him wearing it? And posting said photograph online? After this photo was taken, he asked to "see! see!" and when shown, he stabbed with his finger at the little person on the tiny screen and yelled out his own name, for the first time ever, to the insane delight of his entire family, who happened to be gathered 'round for bedtime snack (Kevin's least favourite "meal" of the day).
My friend Tricia has joined a challenge to read 100 books this month--children's books. That got me thinking that it might be interesting to keep track of what I've read on a given day ... say, yesterday. I know that I read a lot every day, but it's not the reading I used to do when I would sit down and devour a book for hours at a time. It's endless little bits that add up to ... not sure, really. Broader knowledge? Or shallower knowledge? Less about more?
So, here's what I read on Wednesday, though not in any particular order ...
Front section (news) of the Globe and Mail newspaper (on actual newsprint--we get it delivered). Online first-person piece by Diana Athill, from the National Post's website. A blog about the Bookstravaganza reading I attended on Monday. Caught up on the Globe and Mail's online book blog. An interview with Annabel Lyon on the Toronto Star's website. A bunch of emails. Facebook content provided by Facebook friends (thanks, friends!). Dooce. Several assigned articles in a textbook called Open Boundaries, which, truth be told, glazed my eyeballs. The obituary of a famous anthropologist in the Globe and Mail. Something from Nothing (a children's book), and Pancakes! Pancakes! (another children's book). Part of Attack of the Giant Mutant Snow Goons, or somesuch, a Calvin & Hobbes comic book. Several recipes. A couple of my own stories, for editing purposes. My women's studies essay, for proofing purposes. Various sheets of paper carried home in the bags of my school-going children.
There may be more that I'm forgetting now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If you're looking for a wee bit of entertainment this morning ...

Read this first-person account by Diana Athill, as published in the National Post. It's got flavour. (She and Alice Munro were the writers Kevin and I went to Toronto to see a couple of weeks ago).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Looking for The Golden Mean

Before and after. I'm surprised every time I see her with that gap. She looks so different, and it reminds me that she's growing up. Once again, I pulled the tooth. She is crazy brave; or else has superior pain tolerance; or both. Because, seriously, she made not a peep during the removal, except when piping up to offer suggestions and advice.
I'm working on some writing news, but it's not quite ready to unveil yet. Don't get too excited. It's nothing to do with the Nica stories, or any fiction or poetry or literary writing at all, actually. Not my usual writing news, she says, and thusly leaves her reader in suspense ...
Meantime, I'm looking forward to a couple of writing mornings this week, and wondering where they will take me. And I actually managed to finish chapter one of Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean, which would hardly be considered a feat (it's an amazing book, so far), except that I succeeded in reading it while babysitting this morning (parents of said babysat child: please don't dock my pay). My usually cheerful threesome of Tuesday children went all Tuesday-ish on me last week, and there was much grumpiness and butting of heads, so I decided to stay right on top of the situation today. But soon discovered that just sitting quietly on the couch or rocking chair in the same room, being available to jump in when the tone changed from convivial to bossy, was enough supervision. So I added the book to the mix. It turned out to be a good morning. Read this book, too! Then we can chat about it, perhaps over coffee, while our children boss each other around. Just a thought.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recipes: Carrot Soup and non-Carrot Granola

On Halloween, the kids and I went out to Herrle's Farm Market to buy pumpkins for carving, and discovered that it was their last day open for the season, and not only were there free cookies, danishes and butter tarts for customers (hello, heaven), but many items were on sale, too. So, among other purchases, including some delectable pickled sugar snap peas, we hauled home a huge bag of carrots. Usually, the kids eat so many carrots raw that they're all devoured before I can cook with them. So, carrots became the theme of my Day of the Dead meal: carrot soup to start, and carrot cake to finish. The soup recipe is worth posting. Smooth, sweet, mild, and optionally vegan.

Ginger Carrot Soup
Peel and trim 2 lbs of carrots (or more, whatever looks good in your pot), add 4 cups water (or more, depending on how many carrots you're using). Bring to a boil, simmer till soft. Reserve.
In a separate soup pot, saute 1-2 chopped onions, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 2 tbls grated ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger) with 1 tbls butter or oil. Add additional seasonings: 1 and 1/2 tsp salt, plus 1/4 tsp each of the following: cumin; ground fennel; cinnamon; allspice; dried mint. (Add more or less of each according on your family's tastebuds). Saute till onions are soft. Remove from heat. Stir in 3-4 tbls fresh lemon juice.
Now, pour/ladel in the cooked carrots and their cooking water. Puree everything together (I used last year's Christmas gift: a handheld submersible food processing device that I stick directly into the cooking pot, hugely cutting down on the mess, and which I highly recommend.)
You can also add a cup of toasted cashews to the mix, though I didn't.
(Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook.)
A couple of months ago, a friend requested my granola recipe. She said my granola, as pictured on this blog, looked delicious, but hers always turned out raw-ish and sat heavily in the belly all morning. That was a small aha moment for me, because, truth be told, my granola looked pretty on the blog, but that most recent batch had effected a similar response in the gut. So I couldn't, in good conscience, post the recipe. Till now! Last weekend, I had great success with a modified granola recipe, which even Apple-Apple will eat. It's crunchy and sweet, almost cookie-ish, and flavoured with maple syrup.

Really Good Granola
Combine in a pan on the stove: 1/2 cup water, 1 cup oil, 1 cup maple syrup and/or honey, in whatever combination you like, 2 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbls salt (or a good deal less salt, if you prefer). Simmer till the ingredients are all melted together.
Meanwhile, in a separate large mixing bowl combine: 2 cups whole wheat flour, 6 cups rolled oats, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup wheat germ, and 1 cup flax and sunflower seeds in combination. (The coconut is definitely optional).
Now, add the warm blended liquids to the dry ingredients, mix thoroughly, and spread in a thin layer on two greased cookie trays. Bake at 250 degrees till dry and crunchy. This could take up to two hours, but check every half hour or so to stir and test, till it reaches your preferred texture.
You can add dried fruit and nuts afterward; but my kids prefer it very plain. Store in covered containers. This will last awhile ... but hopefully not too long; the whole goal is to make food that disappears!
(Adapted from the More-With-Less Cookbook).

Day of the Dead

Yesterday, we celebrated/marked el Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Kevin was thinking a lot about his dad, who died of cancer two years ago, on Halloween. Last year, we drove to his mom's farm near Kingston after trick-or-treating, exactly as we'd done the previous year; but this year, Kevin worked on Halloween, and we couldn't make the pilgrimage. So, instead, Kevin made a Day of the Dead shrine to honour those family members who've passed on. The kids and I were anxious about the candles burning down the house (sorry, Kev, I seem to have passed along the worry gene that doesn't afflict you, and certainly didn't afflict your dad, either!). I spent the Day of the Dead cooking up a feast. Albus played street hockey all afternoon, Fooey played indoors, Apple-Apple ploughed through the rest of the fifth Harry Potter book whilst wiggling a loose tooth (now out), and CJ napped.
I'm alone with CJ again this morning, and we are playing upstairs. If we get downstairs, and if he doesn't strongly object to my typing, I will add some recipes ...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treating

Witch pumpkin. Alien pumpkin. Cute-as-a-button pumpkin, with stars (though Fooey says it's pretty scary; that's a bow on its forehead).
CJ. Not impressed by Albus's costume (Darth Maul from Star Wars).
Anakin from Star Wars. Darth Maul from Star Wars. Pumpkin. "Just a plane."
Anakin after dark.