Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another day, another cookbook

 I received an email this morning from the library system letting me know that a novel I'd requested had come in.  The kids and I had no concrete plans for the day so after we'd been through our Pop Go The Wiggles CD once we headed out to the library.  I love the library.  I love books.  I love to read.  There are so many important things that I want to teach my kids but one of the most important to me is a love of reading.  K has it in spades.  That boy loves books.  In fact, I've had to punish him for reading in bed.  Now, before you bookworms start yelling, let me clarify.  It's not the reading in bed per say that I object to, I used to read under the covers when I was little, it's the reading before his nap that bothers me.   He's a bear if he doesn't get enough sleep or if he hasn't had enough time to wake up (I'm not looking forward to life with teenage K.)  I know how compelling a good book is.  I really do.  I didn't read novels through university because I'd stay up until 2 or 3 am until the book was finished.  When it comes to a good book I have zero will power.  Back to K.   I know it's hypocritical to punish him for reading in bed when I used to do the same.  But I was the ripe old age of 6 when I started reading under the covers and K is merely 3.  I promise I won't do it when he's actually reading!

Back to our library visit.  We took out 5 or 6 books for the kids, a few mags for me, the novel that was on hold, and a cookbook.  K chose the cookbook and I think it was an inspired choice: Sara's Secrets for weeknight meals by Sara Moulton.  I've always enjoyed Sara Moulton on The Food Network and am looking forward to I haven't had a chance to go through it yet but I will.  And then I plan to cook.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm very full. Again.

In the introduction to her cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond says that she put on 10, maybe 11 pounds while writing.*  I have not written a cookbook, have no plans to write a cookbook, but I'm well on my way to putting on 10, maybe 11 pounds.  New recipes have a way of doing that to me.  I eat as if I will never ever see food, particularly this new delicious food again.  Ridiculous, no?

My husband has been working nights for the last couple so I've been on my own for suppers.  Well, not quite on my own; my kids did have to eat.  They have been chowing down on the leftover chicken and rice soup and eggs and toast.  (If I'm ever stuck for a supper I feed the kidlets eggs and toast and then fend for myself after they're in bed.  It's one of their favourites.  It may actually be K's fav, right after grilled cheese.)  Back to my suppers: last night it was pico de gallo and guacamole.  And then The Pioneer Woman's Mocha Brownies.  Yum, yum, yum!  Tonight I had a baby spinach salad with a hard boiled egg, some English cucumber, red pepper and Kraft Asian dressing.  Along side I had steamed zucchini with salt and pepper and a piece, OK two pieces, of The Pioneer Woman's Olive Cheese Bread.  It was all delicious.  I finished it off with half of the last brownie.  

Lest you think I only cook from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: it's the cookbook I currently have on loan from the library.

*I just looked over the introduction and I couldn't find where she mentions the weight gain.  But I swear I read it somewhere.  Maybe her website?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Has it only been 5 days?

Early last week my son, K, came down with a cold.  Great.  That means my daughter, P, and I will soon follow.  My husband manages to get every 3rd cold so he's safe.  Since then K's come down with an ear infection and chest infection, I've caught the cold but am on the mend, and P is battling with the cold.  Hubby is still in perfect health.  So not fair.

Because a sick preschooler, toddler and mummy aren't enough, my parents stopped by for a couple of days on their way home from wintering in Florida.  It made for a busy weekend and fantastic food.  We had The Pioneer Woman's pizza dough and made Potato and Leek Pizza from her cookbook.  (I'm not crazy and I didn't post the wrong link.  It will go to a different pizza recipe but the pizza dough recipe is the right one.)  I made the dough on Wednesday and let it sit until Friday.  The pizza dough was fantastic but I didn't do a very good job of spreading it out.  Dough has never been my friend.  Ever. Nevertheless, the pizza was delicious. My dad and I may have made it too tall as the potato wasn't completely cooked through.  I still thought it was fantastic.  My kids had a different opinion.  K asked for "the other kind of pizza, the one with the pepperoni" and P only ate a few pieces.  I choose to believe that the goat cheese was too much for them.

Other foods of note were chicken and rice soup with homemade stock and The Pioneer Woman's Pico de Gallo and Guacamole.  About a month ago I bought The Canadian Living Slow Cooker Cookbook at Winners after having deciding against buying it when I saw it at Costco.  I'm so glad I did because it has the best recipe for stock.  I use the recipe for turkey stock with two or three carcasses from Costco roast chickens.  Twelve hours in the slow cooker and you have the most tasty and beautiful chicken stock ever.  Yum yum yum!

Costco roast chicken: In Canada they are $6.99 for a 2.5 lb bird.  If I were to buy the same chicken, but raw, it would be about $21 for 3.  Why waste my time roasting a chicken when I can buy a delicious one, with no additives, for the same price?  We buy approximately 1 chicken a week so I've got plenty of carcasses for stock.  I think there are 6 or 7 in the deep freeze right now.  Chicken stock here I come!

A little overwhelmed

I think I may have made a mistake today.  Not your run of the mill put-dishsoap-in-the-dishwasher kind of mistake but mistake of epic proportions.  Thanks to the magic of Twitter I discovered Babble's Top 50 Mommy Food Bloggers.  Yikes!  I'm overwhelmed on many levels.  Not only are there 50 food blogs to check out, and possibly follow, Babble has lists of blogs in more categories than I can count.  Top 10 Most Controversial Mommy Bloggers, Top 10 Most Confessional Mommy Bloggers,  Top 50 Most Popular Mommy Blogs.  The list just goes on and on.  I've only managed to look at 6 of the food blogs and I'm flabbergasted.  Mouth watering recipes, gorgeous pictures and unbelievably fantastic prose.

Ready?  Go on.  Open Pandora's box.  I refuse to be held responsible for the consequences.  ;)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Supper at the Zoo

Last night we has some friends over for supper.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. Three boys, ages 5, 4, 3 and one girl, 16 mos, and two sets of parents.  That makes for 8 bodies and an unbelievable amount of noise.  The cacophony that those little bodies can produce is amazing.  Fun was had by all.  All the little bodies that is.  Ha Ha.  No, really, we all had a good time.  We may even do it again.  :)

I made a double batch of The Pioneer Woman's Simple, Perfect Chili and decided to try it with Rachael Ray's Dinner Sized Texas Chili Cheese Fries.  In an effort to be veggie conscious, we also had bowls of cucumber, red pepper and orange peppers.  To make sure there was ample food for all eight people I decided to double both RR's potato wedges and the cheese sauce.  I should not have doubled the cheese sauce.  What was I thinking?  The kids didn't eat too much of it; my two ate a respectable amount but the visiting kids wouldn't touch it.  Maybe they found the mustard flavour a little offputting.  Who knows.  The adults ate ridiculous reasonable size portions.  Of everything.  There is a meager amount of the chili left, almost no potato wedges and a TON of cheese sauce left.  I really should have known better.  I often find RR's portion sizes much too big for me.  (But that's usually OK because then I end up with leftovers and I love leftovers.  I love them.  I often find myself eating them straight out of the fridge a la Nigella.)  

But what do I do with the leftover cheesy mustardy goodness?  I'm not tempted to eat it straight out of the fridge, though it is delicious.  I'm thinking about mac & cheese with some sort of ground meat.  I've got ground pork in the freezer and with some sausage like spices I think it might be quite nice.  Hmmm.  I think this may be what we're having for supper tonight.  With a large spinach salad.  Yum!  I'll let you know how it goes. 

Oh, I almost forgot.  I made prune cake for dessert but my friend brought leftover mango mousse birthday cake so we had that instead.  After the guests had left and the kids were in bed, my hubby and I tried the prune cake.  After my second piece I brought half of the cake to the neighbours.  I couldn't get it out of the house fast enough.  They were dubious when I told them what it was (sorry PW, I don't have a poker face).  It's taking every ounce of will power to stay away from the Tupperware with the cake.  Must.  Not.  Eat. Cake.  Will there be any left when my parents arrive Friday afternoon?  Probably not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New cookbook = cooking frenzy

I admit it. I have a bit of an obsession with cookbooks. I have crammed as many as possible on the one available shelf in my kitchen. My favourites are readily accessible.  There are boxes and boxes of cookbooks in the basement, a year and a half later, yet to be unpacked.  When we eventually get to renovating our kitchen, like 10 years from now, there will an area to display all my cookbooks. Most are tattered and worn, some are still in near mint condition. Let me be clear: Near mint condition doesn't mean unused.  It means that I treat it as a brand new novel, carefully turning the pages and salivating over the pictures, as I work up the nerve to try the recipes within. Unfortunately, I have had to stop buying cookbooks as our budget no longer allows my obsessive shopping.
With that in mind, I recently took a few cookbooks out of the library; Gordon Ramsay's Passion for Seafood, Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Kitchen, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Gordon Ramsay's book is an excellent and inspiring read but has me intimidated to the core.  Jamie Oliver's book has me wanting to turn my entire backyard into a vegetable garden.  The Pioneer Woman.  Well.  I am in love with her! What a read. Her writing style has me convinced that she's a long lost BFF (best foodie friend).  Her recipes have mouth watering constantly.  I have been cooking maniacally from her book. Yesterday I made a double batch of her Chicken Spaghetti, froze one recipe and split the other into two pans. I took one half recipe to our neighbours; they have 8 week old twins!!  (As an aside: The babies are absolutely perfect.  Their skin is stretched to the limit by the most adorable baby pudge. So sweet.  I still don't want another.)  Today's cooking adventures included her Simple, Perfect Chili and her Grandma Iny's Prune Cake.   The chili, unadorned, is perfect.  I could eat the entire double batch myself.  First I'd have to beat my husband off with a blunt instrument as I made the mistake of letting him taste it.  My next attempt will probably include the addition of beans and maybe tomatoes but maybe not.  I may not risk tampering with perfection.  I can't yet report on the prune cake.  It smells divine and is covered with a dark and luscious caramel icing.  Icing is a bit of a misnomer.  This particular caramel icing is really just delicious caramel poured over the top of the cake.  How bad can it be?

I see the final 10 pounds of post baby weight coming back for a more permanent visit.