"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Thursday, 14 January 2010

In praise of: making your own baby food

You're probably thinking that this is a pretty weird "In praise of" topic, huh? The truth is, I've become addicted to making Jade's baby food. Seriously, hardly a day goes by that I don't have my nose buried in the baby food cookbook (The Baby's Table), the Magic Bullet a-whirring or the steamer steaming. Cooking for me and D has always been rewarding and fun, but cooking for baby Jade is fulfilling on a whole different level. (Okay, except for the part where she spits out a recipe or does her whole fake-gag act. But that's only happened with parsnips and plums.)

Not only is it rewarding to see your tiny offspring gobble down meals of your own making, you have complete control over what goes into her food. It's a bit horrifying to read some of the ingredients on baby cereals, snacks and other pre-packaged baby foods. Check this one out: RICE FLOUR, DRY SKIM MILK, PALM OLEIN, POTATO MALTODEXTRIN, CANOLA OIL, COCONUT OIL, PREBIOTICS (OLIGOFRUCTOSE, INULIN), SUNFLOWER OIL, MINERAL AND VITAMINS (FERROUS FUMARATE, NICOTINAMIDE, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN), BIFIDOBACTERIUM LACTIS CULTURES. I'm sorry, but what the what are Palm Olein and Potato Maltodextrin and Coconut Oil doing in my 8 month old's food? Ugh.

I'm thankful that Jady Lady is a good little eater, and likes everything except the aforementioned P words. It's so much fun to see what foods she favours (avocado, tofu, broccoli, melon) and which she eats with less gusto (peach, egg yolk, papaya). I'm loving all the funky recipes in her baby cookbook, especially now that we've moved beyond the steam&puree-the-crap-out-of-veg&fruits stage. My latest favourite recipe? Baby Ratatouille. It's delicious, nutritious and best of all, Jady, Mummy and Daddy all enjoy it. So, dear reader, in praise of making my own baby food, I will share my version of the recipe with you. Even if you don't have a wee one to feed, this stuff is veggie gold for adults too. And you don't even have to wear a bib.

Baby Ratatouille
1 cup broccoli florets
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 can tomatoes with juice
1 red pepper, peeled and chopped
1 potato, cubed (peeling is optional)
1/2 onion, chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 cup no-salt vegetable broth or water
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
handful fresh basil (optional)

Chuck it all in a pot and bring to a boil; simmer covered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer another 10 minutes uncovered. It should look like a thick stew when it's done. Serve hot over egg noodles or orzo, sprinkled with copious amounts of cheese and basil. Soooo good on a cold winter day.

The Sunday Afternoon Drive: MacGregor Point

If you grew up in Ontario, chances are you spent time at an arena learning to skate. You probably even tried out the nearest outdoor rink, usually a flooded and frozen basketball court in a nearby park. If you were really super lucky, your parents built you your VERY OWN rink in your VERY OWN backyard. I was one of those fortunate kids who had a persuasive mother and an obliging father and therefore, her very own outdoor rink.

All sorts of related rinky memories came rushing back to me this past weekend when D and I took Jady Lady skating at MacGregor Point national park. Before you freak out, let me clarify: my child is not a sporting genius and did not strap on pint-sized skates at 8 months old. D did the skating and pulled her around in her fancy new sled while all the other children watched in envy.

The park is huge and offers lots of funky winter activites, like winter hiking, skiing and snowshoe trails. Best of all, there's a fabulous outdoor 400m long "skating circle" nestled in the midst of the woods. I've been dying to go ever since I heard about it last year and D, in his husbandly wisdom, suggested the outing over supper on friday night. Sometimes that guy says exactly the right thing.

Skating on an outdoor rink requires a certain knack for navigating bumpy surfaces, stray branches and errant clumps of snow. Outdoor rinks usually aren't groomed, and this one was no exception. It was a jigsaw of cauliflower-esque lumps, gouges from enthusiastic skaters and deceivingly smooth patches. Seeing as how I'm learning to skate in brother-in-law C's old hockey skates - completely different from the figure skates I grew up using - I resembled a drunken ballerina. Wee children were passing me. Squirrels ran faster than I skated. D, on the other hand, was the epitome of effortless grace. I love watching him skate; years of hockey have given him speed, power and balance, things I covet even more than I covet his naturally curly hair.

Jady seems to enjoy the outdoors. At least she doesn't scream or whinge. Occasionally she smiles up at us from the comfort of her sled, but usually she just stares in wide, blue-eyed wonder at the snow, the trees, the clear winter sky, mummy's goofy helmet and daddy's long legs. I'm glad she doesn't hate winter and can tolerate the cold. I forsee many more afternoons outside with baby Jade, and I can't wait to strap teeny tiny little skates on her in a few years and glide (okay, flail) around together on our very own outdoor rink at Someday farm.

Monday, 11 January 2010


Is there anything more disheartening than taking down the Christmas tree? Probably, but at the moment, I can't think of anything.

I know I'm probably weird for keeping the tree up this long. I just love it so much that I hate to get rid of it. My sis Tanzi and I were just talking about the time when we were living together the Christmas after my mom died. We kept our REAL LIVE scotch pine tree up until Valentine's day, much to the horror of our friends. Now there's a stench I've never been able to recreate.

There's so much about the ritual of the whole Christmas tree tradition that's dear to me. You know, picking out a tree, dragging it home, cursing and grumbling as you and your husband attempt to get it to stand up straight in the tree holder from hell without losing an eye, lugging boxfuls of decorations up from the basement, placing them here and there - just so - while sipping some Alize or Bailey's...I could go on, but I'm probably nauseating those of you who a) have artificial trees and b) take them down on boxing day. To you, I say only this: "Humph!"

Good bye, lovely tree. Despite our tinsel war and the rash you gave me when I hung the ornaments on you, I'll miss your prickly, twinkly presence in the living room.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Comfort for a sniffling soul

That's what my Nana wrote above her recipe for chicken soup in one of her recipe "scribblers;" I often think of it when I'm suffering from a wretched cold like I am right now. Ugh. What a way to ring in the new year. (By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR my bloggy friends!)

I haven't figured out how to get rid of a cold quickly, but I have come up with a roster of remedies that trick me into feeling better. Half the battle with a cold is to do everything in your power to stop yourself from feeling completely miserable. Because I find that when I'm sick and miserable, I make everyone around me miserable. I am a terrible, terrible patient.

First, get as much rest as possible. I know, I know - that's what everyone says. But hardly anyone does it! No, most of us slug ourselves off to work or school anyway, where we moan and snuffle and infect 3/4 of the people we come into contact with. Stay home, for pete's sake, get into bed and stay there for a few hours. Enlist the help of friends or family or whoever you can cajole into looking after your kids/pets/plants so you can catch at least one or two hours of rest. I think colds are our bodies ways of telling us, "Dude, slow the freak down." So listen to your body, get under a blanket and get prone, pronto. Better yet, go to bed a few hours early. I dare ya.

I've already expounded on the joys of taking a bath in an earlier blog, so I won't blather on about it again here. It does wonders for your sinuses though, and loosens up all the guck in your chest too. Add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil and suddenly you'll remember what it's like to breathe through your nose again.

My Dad's remedy for neutralizing all things germy that come within 10 feet of him is pretty good too: slice a raw clove of garlic very thinly. Place it on a cracker with a piece of cheese or better yet, a chunk of venison salami. Eat. Watch all your loved ones flee to the next room. But seriously, garlic and onion do seem to help me feel better when I have a cold. And it doesn't have to be as drastic as dear old Dad's pungent remedy; think fresh salsa with raw onion and garlic (I like Garden Fresh from the deli), or hummus or baba ganouj. You won't be able to smell yourself anyway.

The best thing about having a cold is that it gives me an excuse to drink hard liquor, which I rarely ever do. My version of a hot toddy is the ultimate sickie sleep aid. As a bonus, it also numbs the throat and soothes any of that nasty coughing business. Take a cup of boiling hot water and add a generous glop of honey. Then add the juice of half a lemon. Then add two slices of fresh ginger. Crown this glorious concoction with an ounce of cognac or sherry. (Yes, I know it's supposed to be whiskey or scotch but I'm trying to cure, not kill myself.)

Finally, buy some Vicks Vapo Rub. Find someone you really like, and get them to slather it all over your chest and back. It's surprisingly soothing and stimulating at the same time. (0:

Stay well everyone.