Dining al fresco

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When I was pregnant this was my favourite bench – a serene spot in the Government House gardens. It is about halfway between my house and downtown, perfect for taking a break when I was carting around that huge tummy.

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Now that baby is here the bench has become one of my emergency feeding stops. Most days I have our little one out in the carrier for a long walk and it is usually the case that he won’t make it all the way home without a meltdown. A bench in a quiet, private setting is like a desert oasis when you have a screaming baby attached to you and you’re still 20 minutes from home. And given the many, many hours spent breastfeeding each day, it’s a treat to have a change of scenery from my couch.

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The garden is beautiful right now with all the spring things coming to life. Daffodils, cherry trees, primulas, hellebores, rhododendrons, camellias and many other blooms line the pathways. Just beautiful for walking after baby’s al fresco lunch.

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February 25, 2015 at 7:23 am Leave a comment

Ode to the PBJ

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My normal routine for Sundays or stat holidays is to batch cook some meals for the week so there is always something healthy and good to eat in the fridge/freezer during the hectic week. Soups, lasagna, muffins, that sort of thing.

Today I celebrated BC’s Family Day holiday by making a batch of peanut butter sandwiches. If you know me or have been reading here for a while that should give you a sense of how life has changed since welcoming a newborn into our lives eight weeks ago. It’s killing me not to be able to cook, but there just isn’t time. The most elaborate I’ve gotten is a pot of soup (once) and poached eggs on toast a couple of times a week. Those are the good days when you have time to make an egg.

The humble PBJ has gotten me through the a lot of hard days and nights. I’ve started making them in batches, freezing them and then taking one out when the night shift begins. I’ve gone through half a kilo of peanut butter this way since the baby was born. Not sure this is doing much for my quest to regain my pre-baby body, but there is nothing like a PBJ when it is 4am and after screaming all day a bright-eyed someone has decided this is playtime.

February 9, 2015 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

A Tale For The Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

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I really liked this book. I think almost anyone would. It reminds me of The Night Circus that way – a novel I can recommend far and wide. A Tale For The Time Being is a page-turner, easy to sink into, and even though it is full of very erudite themes, like philosophy, quantum physics and Zen Buddhism, you never feel like you are stretching your brain too far since the narrative is structured around the diary entries of a teenage girl from Japan. This makes it light and easy to read, despite the fact that you are being enriched by substantial questions like what is the nature and meaning of existence. I am full of admiration for Ruth Ozeki because of this. It would be easy for the book to be dry and academic, but with her style of writing it is playful, thoughtful and engrossing.

I find myself with lots of time for reading while I spend hours and hours breastfeeding our new baby every day. The book has to be very good, though, as I am always exhausted since we seem to have created the worst sleeper in the world! I’d welcome any recommendations for good books. There are two good used bookstores plus the library and beautiful Munro’s Books in walking distance of our house and it’s always nice to be able to browse the shelves with a purpose.

January 27, 2015 at 2:45 am Leave a comment

Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans, Italian peasant-style)

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It has been almost 6 weeks since our little boy was born, and thanks to an army of generous and thoughtful family members, neighbours and friends, I haven’t cooked a single meal in all that time. Warm, fresh from the oven muffins, frozen lasagna, chili and soup, ziplock bags of homemade granola, boxes of organic oranges, macaroni and cheese, fish pie, even lobster (a Christmas Day treat)…the list goes on and on. Suffice to say we have been thoroughly spoiled.

Maybe it’s a sign that things are getting a bit easier, or just that I am adjusting to life without sleep, but for the past few days I’ve been itching to cook something. It took me all day to make this soup (babies create a lot of interruptions!), and I sacrificed my afternoon nap for it, but it was worth it. Tasty, hearty, healthy, easy!

This is a slightly tweaked version of a recipe my in laws made while they were here. I doubled the recipe so I could freeze a batch for a day when I am feeling less ambitious in the kitchen.

Pasta e fagioi
Serves 4

1 medium onion, 2 carrots, 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup dried lentils (I used French du puys lentils but any kind will do)
1 can each of chickpeas and white Canellini beans
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons each of fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano (or 1 teaspoon each of dried herbs)
3 bay leaves
6-8 cups vegetable stock or water
3/4 cup dried pasta (small shape like elbow macaroni or ziti)
Grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional – leave out for a vegan dish)
Extra olive oil for garnish (I used some fancy Arbequina oil that a lovely friend of mine gave me – thanks Laurel!)

Sauté carrots, onion garlic and celery in oil until vegetables are softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, then white wine. Stir for a few minutes until wine reduces. Add lentils, chickpeas, beans, tomatoes and stock/water and cook over low-medium heat for 15-30 minutes until lentils are soft. Then add pasta and cook for another 10 minutes until pasta is soft. Garnish with olive oil, more fresh pepper and Asiago cheese if desired. Serve with a salad. Yummy warm winter comfort food!

January 25, 2015 at 11:09 pm Leave a comment

January spring

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Gorgeous day out today – perfect for a walk with a fussy baby. Our little one’s crying didn’t stand a chance against the sun and the flowers and the beach.

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January 20, 2015 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

Applesauce, homemade and homegrown

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Applesauce must be one of the easiest recipes on the planet. And as an extra bonus it’s the perfect thing to make when you’re enjoying an afternoon or evening in as it makes the house smell absolutely heavenly.

In the early stages of my pregnancy I was obsessed with applesauce as it was one of the few things I could stomach. Now that I am eating everything in sight it doesn’t have quite the same cache, but it is delicious nonetheless. Especially the homemade variety made from apples grown in my own backyard.

Here is my no-recipe recipe for applesauce:

Peel and chop up a bunch of apples. Put them in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water and a giant spoonful of cinnamon and any other spices you have handy (cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, etc). Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for a long time, stirring occasionally, until the apples turn to mush.

I poured mine into two big jam jars, and stuck one in the fridge for eating right now (perfect as a midnight snack), and one in the freezer for later.

November 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Roasted yam and garlic soup

yam and garlic soup

More soup! After last week’s farmer’s market I spent about an hour chopping and cooking the root veggies and squash I bought. Since then I’ve made beet salad, spaghetti squash casserole and now this soup. All took less than 15 minutes to make since the veggies were all cooked and waiting in the fridge.

Truly a feeling of healthy wholesome-ness, even domestic goddess-ness. :)

I know, I know…this will only last a little while longer with baby on the way, so I am trying to enjoy it now before the chaos hits!

Roasted yam and garlic soup
Makes 1 big pot of soup

3-4 medium sized yams, roughly chopped (wash and remove any blemishes, but leave skins on for nutrients and flavour)
6-8 garlic cloves (whole, peeled)
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water, plus more for later when blending the soup
1 can white beans
1/4 cup basil pesto (I used Golda’s, which comes in a vegan version if you want to avoid dairy. Or make your own, of course!)

Place yams and garlic cloves in large shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and fennel seeds, drizzle with olive oil and pour water over top. Bake in a 350F oven for 45 minutes or until yams are tender. Puree with beans in a blender or food processor – just add enough water to reach the consistency of soup you like. Heat in a saucepan and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour into bowls and add a swirl of pesto to the top of each.

Delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches.

November 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

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