Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kids Book Club - Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I am a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.  I have the complete set, plus a few extra biographies on her and her family.  If I ever win the lottery, I'm heading down to the states to tour the places she lived.  I read the books to The Boy - although he was too young to remember them - and now The Girl and I have just finished reading LHBW and I was so, so happy to start reading the series again.  
I know it's a cliche and sexist, but I'm happy to have a daughter who will hopefully like the books and I can pass down my set to her when she's older.

LHBW is one of my favorites in the series because there is so much detail of their every day life - Ma making cheese and how meat was preserved for storage.  The long days of her parents and the excitement of seeing family that lived elsewhere.  The angst of trying to be a good girl when you have an annoying older sister.  Such a lovely book. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Squash and Turkey Meatball Curry

I  had a beautiful kabocha squash to use up and I didn't want to bake or steam it, so I thought instead I'd make a curry with it.  My original plan had been to keep it vegetarian, but then I decided to throw in some turkey for the kids - although really it was just for The Boy - The Girl is practically a vegetarian.  She does not like meat much at all - so I made some quick meatballs and tossed them in too.  The Girl didn't care for this and The Boy only wanted to eat the rice and meatballs but The Mister and I really really liked it.  

1 TB coconut oil
1/2 - 1 red onion, diced
1 kabocha or other squash, peeled and diced
1 TB ginger, grated
1 TB - or more to your taste - curry paste - I keep it low for my weenie kids
1 can coconut milk
1 cup broth - veg or chicken - or I cup water
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar

Meatballs - 
1 lb ground turkey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup or more bread crumbs
Any other seasonings you like - onion, garlic, curry etc

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and cook until softening.  Stir in the grated ginger and the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.  Add the squash to the pan and cook for a few minutes more.
Pour the coconut milk and broth or water in, and add the soy sauce and sugar to taste.  Bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat, and cover while you make your meatballs.  
Remove the lid and gently drop the raw meatballs into the sauce.  Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the squash is tender.

Serve with rice.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Dill Bread

I had a bunch of fresh dill that I had planned on making into tatziki, but then the kids ate all the cucumber, so I decided to make bread instead.  
Because I didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen for a dough that needed rising and shaping (Spring has sprung!  We are outside as much as we can be right now!) I went looking for a quick bread recipe.

I found one that called for dill as well as buttermilk which I didn't have but I did have the plain yogurt I'd bought for the tatziki so I replaced the 1 1/2 cups of buttermik in the recipe with 3/4 cup each of milk and plain yogurt whisked together.

It was a delicious easy bread that called out to be eaten with cheese.  As some breads do.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Book Club - every day by david levithan

"Tomorrow."  she says, a little less than a promise, and a little more than a chance.

The devil doesn't make anyone do anything.  People just do things and blame the devil after.

If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there.  A blankness.  Ultimately, the universe doesn't care about us.  Time doesn't care about us.  That's why we have to care about each other.


I bought this one because it was $10 and sounded interesting.  It's a YA book, which isn't my usual type, but it was good and I cried at the end.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

More Treasures

My Dad has been working through some boxes stored in his basement and he gave me a stack of papers to go through. Here's some cringy things I found - 

A Breakdancing instructional poster - I am pretty sure this came in a record I bought?  

I laughed until I cried looking at this.  It reminded me of when my mom signed me up for a (thankfully short) set of beginner breakdancing lessons at a downtown dance studio in the 80's.
I was horrible at it, but I appreciate my mom letting try.

When I found out that Shawn Cassidy and I share the same birthday I thought that meant we were destined to be together forever.  My obsession with him was as short lived as my breakdancing career, but along the way someone gifted me with this super cool notebook.

In this pile of papers there were some loose "order forms" and receipts and menus from when I would play waitress and take orders from imaginary customers in the restaurant in my room.
Those made sense, more sense than this note I found.

I was a lover, not a fighter, so I am mystified by this.  What was up?  
Who was I begging myself not to fight? 

Ok, so who would NOT want The Go-Go's, Willie Nelson and Billy Joel at their party?  But who is Jennifer Rodgers?  Google is revealing nothing.  Such a mystery. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Book Club - Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner

"And that's the worst part: you can make the right decision, the very best decision you know how to make for yourself and your family, and still have cause to mourn."

"If you use the sentiment or the words "at least" in response to someone's suffering, you're diminishing their feelings, probably because their pain makes you anxious."

"They do not all want a response, or an Internet friendship.  They just want to been seen - to have another human on this earth know their story - so I treat each one as the honor that it is.  I see your broken hearts, strangers.  I have added them to my collection."


I bought this one while researching another book on loss - that day I ended up buying 3 books on the subject and this is the first I've read. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Smackdown - A Twist on Chocolate Chip Cookies (Salted vs Malted)

Everyone in my fam- The Grandfather included - loves cookies. And chocolate chip cookies reign supreme. Over the years I have tried dozens and dozens of recipes- crisp,soft,cake style, you name it. In the past while I tried 2 cookies - with a twist - and here they are, pitted against each other for your enjoyment. We have the internet sensation Salted Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies from Alison Roman vs Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars from Food 52.

First up, and baked first are the shortbread cookies.  These were all over the internet in the Fall and often labelled "The Best Cookie Ever."  We - me and The Mister - are pretty big fans of shortbread, and I love salty-sweet combos.  So win-win already, right? 
After the dough is rolled into a log, you are supposed to roll it in demerara sugar before slicing.  I skipped that step, but after the cookies were sliced and on the baking sheet, I sprinkled the top of each with a pinch of salt and sugar that I mixed together.
These just might be the best cookie ever.  We loved these. 

Next - the cookie bars.  I wanted to try this because I had no idea that malted milk powder was the same as Ovaltine.  Whenever I see a recipe that calls for malted milk powder I always stop reading because I thought it was some specialty ingredient that I couldn't get here.  Who knew!  Not me.  The other "twist" in this recipe was that the butter is melted and browned before being added to the dough.  Now I am a raw dough eater/tester (don't judge me) and I swooned when I tried the batter.  The flavors of the butter and malted milk powder were distinct and delicious.  Sadly, they disappeared into the baked bar, which was very very good, but neither of the flavors shone through in the finished product.  That did not stop us from inhaling these though.

The Winner is..........

The Salted Chocolate Chip Shortbread!

Both cookies are amazing and you should try them, but the shortbread were just a little more amazing.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book Club - Prisoners of the North by Pierre Berton

 "The industrial revolution in the gold country sparked by Boyle had changed the face of the Klondike, and there was no environmentalist movement to protest or prevent it.  The low, rolling hills had long since been denuded in the growing hunger for lumber.  The broad and verdant valleys were reduced to black scars by the big nozzles that tore at the topsoil and overburden to send the muck and silk coursing down to the big river."

"As Francis Spufford has pointed out, more expeditions have managed to travel safely to the moon and return than had been able to navigate the Passage from sea to sea."

Y'all - there is a Kamloops connection!

On the poet, Robert Service -

"There are some hints of a schoolboy love in Glasgow and an affair, later, in Kamloops, BC, but only hints."

"In July 1904, he was transferred to the bank's branch in Kamloops where he immediately bought a pony and tried to take up polo.  He hated the game but loved the costume and had himself photographed in it to send to his family.  He bought himself a banjo and strummed away at it happily during his leisure hours."


I bought this one years ago at the Symphony Book Sale and decided it was time to read it.  A long read, but good.  Makes me want to travel up North and see this part of our beautiful country.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

no knead bread

I enjoy making bread but sometimes I just don't want to do all the forming and rising and and rolling and more rising and shaping and then more rising, you know? Sometimes you just want some bread dang it! 
So I tried a loaf of no knead bread where you make a simple dough, mix it only enough to combine the ingredients, and then let it sit on the counter for up to 24 hours before you bake it. 
Ok, there is one forming/rising session but it's right at the end so I am ok with that. 

This produced a super delicious loaf of bread that was nice and crusty on the outside and chewy and just a little tangy on the inside.  
The Mister was completely selfless and let The Grandpa take home the other half of the loaf we didn't eat for Sunday Dinner, so I owe him another loaf.  
This time I'm going to let the dough sit for the full 24 hours to see if the flavor deepens.

There is just something about taking a loaf of homemade bread out of the oven.
Such an accomplishment.  So tasty with butter.......

Friday, May 11, 2018

Enchilada Casserole

I spend time every weekend online looking for new recipes to cook for the family. Things that the kids might eat, things that are at least somewhat reletively healthy, that don't take too long to cook and/or have at least an element that can be made ahead of time.
(That last one sticks in my craw a little as we have one of those side by side fridges where 1/3 of the fridge is the freezer, which means all the shelves are narrow and short, which fills up fast and makes it impossible to premake things and keep them in the fridge.)

Anyhoo I have been focusing less on flipping through stacks of cookbooks and using Pinterest more to narrow my search options to find things that might fit not only my requirements from above but also what ingredients I have on hand.  And it works pretty good, other than SO MANY websites that have 38 pictures of the exact same plate of food at 7 slightly different angles before you can see the recipe.  Not a fan of this trend.

So!  I found this recipe for an enchilada casserole that ticked off some of my boxes and I love Mexican style food and tater tots.

I made the enchilada sauce from scratch seeing as it is very hard to find canned enchilada sauce here.  But that is ok - it is an easy thing to do, and if/when I find the recipe I used this time, I will share it with you. 

After I made the sauce, I cooked the meat and simmered it with the other sauce ingredients, and then I cooled it and stored it in the fridge, since a 9x13 pan of food wouldn't fit in the fridge.  Then on meal day all we had to do was dump the meat in the dish, add some cheese and tots and cook!

Here's the recipe - easy beef enchilada tator tot casserole

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Tis the Season - Tick Spray

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a black fluff on The Boy's shoulder and I went to brush it off - and it was a TICK just beginning to burrow into his SKIN.  He'd been at the Wildlife Park that morning with his sister so we pushed aside the heebie jeebies and picked through their hair to make sure there weren't any more.
The Boy had one in his hair a few years ago so he's obviously delicious, and a FB friend had mentioned that she'd found a couple of her kids clothes and it was starting to freak me out, so I did some investigating into making a tick spray.
Top essential oils to use that I came across in my research were eucalyptus, lemon eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, and geranium.  
Lavender is too strong a scent for me, and the one natural food store I've been to so far didn't have geranium, so I got a bottle of lemon eucalyptus and a bottle of witch hazel and made my own spray.

I used a tablespoon of witch hazel (I realized after I'd opened it that the lady sold me a bottle of witch hazel toner, but since I'd already opened it I'm hoping it's pretty much the same) and 40 drops of lemon eucalyptus oil and topped it off with water.  
The Mister and I tried it out on ourselves to make sure we didn't break out in a rash or anything so we've been using it on the kids along with always wearing their hats and hopefully we won't find any more.
The Boy has heard some stories about ticks from his friends and there was Big Drama at school last year when one was discovered in the hair of one of his classmates, so now he's even more obsessed with them- so much so that he picked the TICK as his animal to do his science project on, so now I get to research these gross creatures even more.....shudder.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Book Club - What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

"There are no harsh lines in the picture.  Blacks fade into grays and into whites, and shadows draw the features of his face and torso."


I bought this from Costco because I wanted a new book to read and it was inexpensive.  It was a bad impulse purchase because I don't like crime novels and I do not like books about kids in danger, so it was dumb of me to get it.  Not my kind of book at all.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Treat yourself - Shower Steamers

I love me some aromatherapy and I have for years.  Rarely a day goes by that I don't bust out at least one oil.
A video on making "Shower Steamers" popped up in my facebook feed and I was interested - a new way to get a zing of aromatherapy!
These are super easy and don't take much time or equipment.

Here's the link I used - from HGTV.

You mix baking soda and water and press into muffin tins lined with paper liners.
Then you bake them, and let them cool, loosen the paper liners, 
and add your oils before you pack them up.

I had some trouble getting some of the liners off the tablets.  
Some popped right out, and some did not.

I did 6 peppermint (my favorite oil) and eucalyptus,

And 6 lemon and lime.  3 drops of each oil per disc for both.

The Mister tried one the morning I made them and really enjoyed it.  My nose does not always work well anymore, so I didn't find it very scenty.  And of course, the longer they sit, the more scent they lose.  But - PRO TIP - just add another couple of drops to one right before you get in the shower and POW - smell city.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Club - The Bear by Clare Cameron

From the introduction to the book: "Identifying fault can comfort us because it provides a way to isolate the circumstances of an incident from our own situation, ensuring that what happened to these people will not happen to us."


I unearthed my old Kobo from the bottom of a drawer a month ago.  I knew I had a few unread books on there and thought it would be nice to have it to do some reading at breaks at work or kid activities.
I bought this one because it was so popular.  I had trouble with the narrative and ended up more skimming it than reading it.  And also, the idea of bear attacks always makes me nervous.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Easter Sunday Dinner - Scalloped Potatos and NIgella's Chocolate Cake and Sad Bread

We had a lovely delicious ham this Easter will all the trimmings. Busted out some special mustards, made some (mediocre, sadly) bread, and put on our elastic waist pants for the feast.

I made scalloped potatos from scratch which, frankly, I do not do often.  I quite like the box mix and I am not ashamed.  But we had a ton of potatos to use up and so my box scalloped mix sits on the shelf for another day.  

We made an enormous pan of potatos from Gimme Some Oven and they were very tasty.

For dessert I made Nigella's Easter Egg Nest Cake which is just a flourless chocolate cake covered in Easter candy.  I skipped topping the cake with chocolate whipped cream and candy, and we just scooped large dollops of cream on our slices on our plates.  It ain't a pretty cake, but it was so delicious I was forced to eat leftovers for breakfast a few days later.

I made the Milk Bread from 100 Breads and it didn't turn out super well. 

I think part of the problem was I didn't get my timing right and the dough wasn't ready to be baked before I needed the oven for the ham and potatos, and so I baked it in the toaster oven.  
Our toaster oven sucks.

It did have a nice flavor, it was just small and sad.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

I made these based on Chocolate Sprinkle Crinkle Cookes from Joy the Baker.  I don't like sprinkles much so I was going to skip the step of rolling the cookies in them anyway, and when I pulled my box of baking supplies off the shelf to grab the chocolate chips I found a bag of peanut butter chips too and that sounded fun.

These cookies were easy to make and I liked that they used oil instead of butter especially since I didn't have butter that day.

I really need to get myself a cookie scoop or two.  Gotta have the right tools, you know?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Snapshot - Canucks Flyer

My Dad unearthed this from a box of treasures in the basement.
Ticket prices have slightly changed over the years.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This is a thing that I have, and also, book sale!

I recently read about tsundoku and laughed.  
Finally I can put a name to what I have been doing for years!  

I have been trying to get back to reading more but lately I've struggled with some of my 
choices and slowed right down, while at the same time receiving and using gift cards 
to the book store and moving books from the bookshelf in the basement to my room to read "soon" and this is what it looks like.

In related news, the Kamloops Symphony held their Spring Book Sale and we went.  Everyone got some books, and the Symphony got some of our money.
I got 5 books; a Thai cookbook, a novel and 3 memoirs.  
I tried to read Eat Pray Love years ago when it came out and I didn't like it and didn't finish it, but now that I'm old(er) I thought I would try again.  
I have had Pema Chodron's name on my list of authors to read for a couple of years, so I was excited to see one of her books.

I am currently struggling through a non fiction book that is interesting but a tough read, and a fiction book that I really don't like much.  I can't give up on either one, so I've got to just find some time and get them done so I can move on. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Kids Book Club - Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

This came in a set of "Classics for kids" that we ordered from Scholastic.
The Girl and I read this, when I asked her what her favorite part was, she said "Pippi!"
I remember loving Pippi Longstocking when I was a kid but frankly I found her annoying as we read this book.  I am a tired mom.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sunday Dinner - Irish Beef Stew

For St. Patrick's Day weekend I wanted to make a stew for Sunday dinner and I tried a new recipe - Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.
I try to avoid cooking with alcohol, so I subbed out the Guiness in the recipe with beef and mushroom broth.  It was a very very delicious stew.

I served the stew with mashed potatos and Ciabatta bread, perfect for dunking.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

easy ciabatta bread

I dusted off my copy of Paul Hollywood's 100 Great Breads a couple of weekends ago.  I feel like I always say the same thing, but this book is so great!

I wanted to make bread on a Sunday but I'd started late and didn't have a lot of time, so the Ciabatta bread was a perfect recipe to make to go with dinner that night - less than 2 hours of rising and baking time!

It made 4 beautiful little loaves that not only went well with our stew, but also made delicious sandwiches.

The recipe on the Paul Hollywood website differs slightly than the book; longer rising times, less yeast, but I am sure both will make delicious bread.

So far I have made 11 recipes from the book -
Crusty Cob
Cheese and Onion Soda Bread
Batch Bread
Cottage Loaf
Pain de Campagne
The Ciabatta dough, which we used the pizza dough
Onion Fougasse
Mince Pies
Mixed Rolls

I won't make all of the recipes in the book but there are so many more I want to try.  And I found a list tucked into the book from my dad - recipes he wants me to make for him.  So I better get cracking!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Something I like - what i'm watching

For a few years I didn't watch much TV other than kids shows and the occasional movie if I could stay up long enough after the kids went to bed on a Saturday night.

Now that The Girl sleeps a little better I am getting back to some tv watching (not sure that is a good thing) at night and when I am attempting to work out in the mornings.

Here's what I'm watching in no particular order -

On "regular" TV

Last Man on Earth - this show is so weird and I love it.  We laugh every episode.

Full Frontal- I am super behind in this one but this one is hard to binge watch because it gets too depressing.  Samantha Bee is the best.

Will and Grace- I would watch Jack and Karen forever.

Over on Netflix

Riverdale - I started watching this at nights on my phone when I couldn't sleep when my mom died.  Sure I roll my eyes now and then, but I like it.  Bughead forever.

Queer Eye - Heart emoji, crying emoji.  I was a big fan of the original show and I love this one too.   Espech Johnathan and Tan. Cried through most of the episodes.  My only quibble  - and I know I am sounding like an old mom - is that I wish it was a bit more PG rated with the language so I could have watched it with my kids.  I would love for them to see this show and the love and friendship and acceptance. 

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction - I have always liked David Letterman and I really like this new show.  The Barack Obama episode made me cry and buy one of his books. 

Somebody Feed Phil - Stumbled across this one while looking for a background show while the kids were still up.  This is a fun show.  This is a happy show.  This is a show that makes me wish I had money to travel

Love Your Garden - another good one to watch with the kids.  People helping people, beautiful gardens and me fretting about if everyone can keep all those plants alive.  Netflix, please release more seasons asap!

Monday, April 02, 2018

Book Club - Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates

"But with it there is my mother's fierce defense of me and the soft weight of her arm across my shoulders: one of the last moments in my childhood when my mother made everything right." 

 "She looked at me, her expression a mixture of wonder and horror. "The Gods have overlooked you."

 "I might have thrown our secret in the open, but nothing had changed. We returned to living in silence."

This is another one from the book swap at my work. I had picked it out for my Mom to read in the hospital, but she didn't.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sunday DInner and Thursday Dinner

A while back my Dad and I went through some of my mom's recipes and I brought some home, including her lasagna, cheesecake and caramel corn. I made the lasagna for Sunday dinner, along with some salad and cheese buns. 

Her lasagna is ridiculously delicious and quite simple.  We love it.

For dessert I made a recipe I ripped out of a Bon Appetit magazine more than a decade ago - Eva Marie Saint's Apple Pie.  This is easy and super delicious.  My Mother In Law requested a copy of the recipe to take home and to my knowledge, she is not a regular baker.

The following Thursday I made Asian Style Chicken Bunwiches with Ginger Sauce from The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook.  They were super good and the ginger sauce was amazing.

We had raw veggies and fries and saved some room for a delicious dessert - Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Spice Cake.  It was a big hit, especially with my Dad, who would have taken the whole cake home if I'd let him.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Book Club - Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

"Welcome to Singapore, Rachael - where arguing about food is the national pastime"

"This isn't a palace.  It's just a big house."

"They sailed past Lantau Island, Charlie bowing respectfully to the giant Buddha at its peak, and skirted past tiny picturesque islands like Aizhou and Sanmen,with their rugged outcroppings and hiddlen inlets."


Why - I saw this on a list of books to read before the movie comes out.  There are 2 sequels and I am looking forward to seeing the movie. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

2 Hour Buns

I have been getting back into bread baking.  Had some triumphs and also some....not failures, but not triumphs either.   These buns are definitely a winner. I found the recipe over at Dinner with Julie, and it made me think of a recipe from an old friend that I need to see if it survived my recipe purge  but I do not know where my stack of saved recipes currently is.

So these are easy,  and you get really nice buns in......2 promised in the title of the recipe.

Fresh baked bread is pretty much the only thing I can count on my Fam to inhale when I make it.  The aren't always enthused about my cookies and squares (weirdos) but they do love homemade bread.  These disappear fast in our house.
I've been marking up some new recipes to try - a soda bread, a no knead bread, potato bread, maybe some savory doughnuts or hush puppies - or both!  The Fam will be pleased.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Journalling - take 3 (or 74)

I am trying journalling again to keep organized, and well, it's sort of working? A little? Mostly, I just get more anxious that I am not getting anything I have listed down actually done. So that's fun.

I am using a (new since last time) dollar store notebook, and doing  a calendar page for each month to note things happening, a to-do page for each month, where nothing gets crossed off....and then pages for lists I need in the month.  Like this list for a potluck in December.

Each month I start a new set of calendar pages and a new to do list, and transfer all the undone to do's to the new list.  And then close the book and run away.

I also have some pages set aside for books I want to read, things to research, recipes to try.  I tried menu planning in the notebook as well, but that didn't work for me.

I fell off the wagon the past couple of months, but am trying to get back to it.  It is pretty satisfying to cross things off the to-do list page, I must say.
Another wagon I fell off of hard is the fitness/healthy weight wagon, and that one has been verrrrrry difficult to get back on track.  (Spoiler alert - I am not back on track.)  I wondered if some sort of exercise/healthy habit tracking page might help?
I found a recent layout for tracking health/mental health that I have just started to try.
It's too early to say if it's having a positive impact, but we'll see. 
Anyone out there  got some good inspiration for health tracker layouts for journals - or any inspiration at all - let me know!