Tuesday, 30 August 2011

THE Chocolate Cake

This actually happened yesterday, but by the time it was done, blogging about it had to wait until today.

Yesterday, I made chocolate cake.  There are two separate, yet equally important, stories that led to the creation of this cake.

Prologue (Story #1).  About 15 years ago, the rest of my family was away at hockey on my brother's birthday, so I decided (/my mother told me) to make my brother a chocolate cake.  It was THE best chocolate cake we had ever eaten.  When I went to make it again, I could not find the recipe.  THE cake has never been recreated.  Since then, my brother goes to restaurants specifically to taste their chocolate cake in hopes of reliving THE cake experience.

Story #2.  Yesterday afternoon, Shawn and I had a discussion.  It was one of those husband/wife discussions where the wife gets a wee bit frustrated, stops listening to the husband and ends the conversation in a huff, without a solution.  Approximately five hours later, I came up with a solution.  It was brilliant.  In fact, so brilliant that my darling husband had suggested it in the original conversation, at some point after little wifey had stopped listening.  When I told him, he just said, "You've got to be kidding me," banged his head off the wall three times, said "I hope that leaves a mark, so you remember this moment," and smiled at me like he was totally in love.  Thank Goodness I ended up with such a patient guy.  As a result, I felt the need to make him a "Your-wife-does-have-some-redeeming-qualities Cake."

So I was flipping through my recipes and found a recipe for chocolate cake that was scrawled on a scrap sheet of paper that on the top had "Slave Girl vs. Night Essay" and a few thesis statement ideas scratched out.  Its been a looooong time since I've written a thesis statement.  Could it be the original recipe for THE cake? 

I made it.  It was A.MAZ.ING.  I've typed out the recipe below, but fair warning, it was late at night so I didn't measure the ingredients carefully.  Only a second recreation will confirm whether or not the recipe, as written, is for the original THE cake.

Shawn, you still looooooove me.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Little Man Tie

I made the most adorable little tie for Nevin yesterday during nap time.  I can't hardly wait to see him in it!
Here's the tutorial if you want to make one for the cute little guy in your life.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.

p.s. If you do make this, I did it without interfacing and it worked out great.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Saturday Morning Run: My new bicycle

I have to be honest: when fall arrives, and the yard sales end, I think my Saturday morning runs might end as well.  Its so much fun running around town looking for junk!  Its the only time its good to feel cheap. 

I mapped out my run this morning based on the yard sale ads in the classifieds of our local paper.  Nothing peaked my interest until I got back to our block.  Then I saw something I had to have - a bicycle.  Yes, I already have three bikes.  Yes, I have more bikes than handbags.  And yes, I'm pretty sure that is one of my top five qualities according to Shawn.

It is adorable.  Its not like any of the other bikes I have.  Its all curvy and comfy and just begging for a basket.  Shawn said he'll clean it up and make it all shiny.  I can't hardly wait to bike to the farmer's market with it... it looks like that is where it belongs.  That, or in a field of daisies.  It makes me smile.
This picture does it no justice.  It is beautiful in my eyes.
And it only cost me $2.  Pure joy.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Zucchini Parmesan

Our garden is bursting with tomatoes, and we are loving every minute of it.  My new weekly supper has become zucchini parmesan.  It is so simple, so good, and has saved me from making a last minute trip to the grocery store on more than one occasion since there always seems to be a spare zucchini in my fridge these days (hooray for late summer vegetable gardening!)
Zucchini Parmesan
1 large zucchini
10 roma tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 brick mozzarella cheese, shredded
Small amount of basil (optional)
1) Slice the zucchini into medallions and spread, domino-style, along the bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish.
2) Dice the garlic and sprinkle over the zucchini.
3) Dice the tomatoes and spread over the zucchini.  Sprinkle basil over the tomatoes, if desired.
4) Sprinkle the mozzarella over the casserole.
5) Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  Serve with spaghetti.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Rainbow Supper

Hello, my name is Sasha and I have a picky eater problem.  There.  I said it.  You can blame my parenting, or you can blame my cooking, but the facts remain the same: my kids are unadventurous eaters.  Nevin refuses anything that doesn't involve peanut butter, bread, yogurt or fruit, and Scarlett, well, Scarlett refuses everything. 

Enter the Rainbow Supper Challenge. A couple of days ago, I saw a picture of a coloured rice craft, and it inspired me.  I thought that maybe if I made a really fun, colourful meal, I might entice Nevin to try a couple new foods.  It was kind of fun to take what I had in my fridge and come up with a rainbow:

 From left to right: roasted red peppers, roasted carrots, yellow food-colouring rice (I was going to use curry powder, but didn't want to risk it with Nevin), green beans, blue food-colouring rice, purple beets.  The bottom is roasted cauliflower clouds.

The blue rice was my fav.
In the end, Nevin wasn't sold with the gimmick.  The clouds, which I thought were genius, apparently still looked like cauliflower in his mind.  Whatever.  He did dive right into the blue rice and carrots (even asked for seconds!), so I'll take it as a tie.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Flower Headbands

Today, I got crafty and let the girly-girl come out in me.  There is something inside me that cannot resist teensy-tiny tutus and oh-so-frilly flower headbands.  Poor girl.

Here is the tutorial for the yellow headband.  I used a strip from the same old sheet that I used for our duvet cover to make it.  I attached it to a hairband that I got at the discount store (it was $1.25 for a pack of 8).  I covered the back with a bit of felt that cost 65 cents for the entire sheet.  So we're talking less then 20 cents to make the entire thing.
The blue one was a little easier, but cost a little more.  After seeing the yellow one that I made two days ago, my Mom saw the blue rosette in the discount bin at a fabric store for $1.  I bought a blue ribbon headband at the discount store for 2/$1.25.  So this little slice of girly heaven cost closer to 60 cents.

And if you want cheap pre-made ones, straight from the source, check out this lady and this lady.  They got this whole frou-frou ball rolling.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Date Almond Shake

Scarlett has developed a ferocious appetite, and so far is resistent to formula and solid foods.  Its only a matter of time before she discovers that food can come from other sources, but in the mean time the food factory is dire need of extra calories.  Since I stepped on the scales a week ago, I have been stuffing myself trying to put weight on... this morning, I discovered I'd lost another 2 pounds.  Enter my secret weapon: the mid-afternoon meal replacement shake, except in my case, its a meal addition shake.  Its delicious, nutritious and different than the usual berries+yogurt shakes, so I want to share it with you.  It would make a yummy breakfast on the go, or post-workout snack.

Date Almond Shake
(from Steven and Chris)
1 tbsp. x almond butter (peanut butter is yummy, too)
4 x dates(pitted)
1 tsp. x maple syrup
1 x banana, peeled
6 oz. x vanilla soymilk (substitutes: skim, 2%, rice or almond milk)
1 shake x cinnamon
1 scoop x ice

Directions: Place everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Picky toddler approved.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Toddler-Proof Chairs, Granny Style.

Today I put the last couple screws back in the dining room chairs.  Nevin and I took them apart a couple of weeks ago to toddler proof them.  We weren't thrilled with the idea of covering them with vinyl à la Golden Girls, so I spruced it up with some Ikea fabric I had laying around in the basement.  Overall, I'm happy with the result.  Now the Baby Girl can have the high chair and the Baby Boy can slip, slap and slop whatever we give him all over the chairs without me having an anxiety attack.

If only getting them to eat the food was this easy.
Toddler proof chair
For comparison's sake...
So easy, even a two year old can do it!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

My parents' garden is bursting forth with all sorts of summer goodies, including zucchinis.  I'm at the point now where I'm starting to grate and freeze the bounty for mid-winter muffin treats.  Not one to put up all the goodness for the future, I made two dozen of my favourite chocolate zucchini muffins today. 

The recipe below is how I like to make it, but the ones I made today were more of an improvised version... since I had no eggs, no baking powder, only a teaspoon of baking soda, and only about 3/4 cup of sugar.  They're much less lumpy, and much more cakey when you follow the actual recipe.  I was also so distracted about how many things I was leaving out, that I was half way through measuring the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl before I noticed, so there was no proper premixing. Still delicious enough to have three though.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Deluxe S'mores!

Happy Friday!  Its been feeling a little like Autumn this week, so everyone around here seems to be anxious about maximizing their last few weekends before school starts again.  I tried this recipe a couple Fridays ago, and I think I'll be doing it again this weekend... it screams "summer is still here!"

via Epicure Selections
 Cream cheese makes everything better... why didn't I think of this?

Deluxe S'mores  
(altered from Epicure's Tiramisu S'mores
1/2 cup (125 ml) light cream cheese 
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp instant coffee crystals dissolved in as little water as possible
16 graham crackers
8 large marshmallows 
8 squares of milk chocolate bar 
1. Blend cream cheese with cocoa powder, cinnamon and coffee crystals. Spread flat side of crackers with mixture.
2. Using your fingers, gently split marshmallows without ripping entirely in half. Fill with chocolate bar square. Seal marshmallow edges by firmly pressing together.
3. Place marshmallows between two prepared crackers. Wrap in foil. Make individual packets or bunch a few together. (This time I'm going to try it leaving the foil packet open, because last time the crackers weren't crunchy anymore).
4. Place packets on the grill on medium-low heat and cook for 4–6 minutes, turning packet halfway through until marshmallows and chocolate start to melt.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Potty Training: Part II

This post should have been filed yesterday, but by the end of the day, I was in no mood for posting.  Shawn had an extra long day away, and didn’t get home until after the kids were in bed, so I was already exhausted and impatient by the time the supper rush was over.  I was going to write about the ridiculous amount of laundry I have been doing since this potty training project began.  I was going to write about how it has inspired me to start googling “Laundry Room Make Over Contest*,” because my poor old washing machine may die at any moment (its allegiance to me in this war against pee is strong, but its like having a 70-year-old on your side… how much can its heart take?).  

But then I got tired.  And I had piles of dishes, and a teething baby, and the pee break incident happened.  I, after having held my pee** through reading stories to Nevin on the potty and nursing Scarlett, decided it was my turn to take a moment to fulfill MY needs.  I had a pee break.  As I was washing my hands, I could hear from the living room (over the complaints of the fussy teething baby), “Ohhhhhh!  I pooped on flooooor!”  It was a first for him, and apparently alarmed him, because when I arrived on scene, there was poop smeared across the potty and down his leg and foot from his attempt to get back to the potty and get the last little bit stuck to him on target.  So I’m sure you can forgive me for feeling a little deflated and not taking the time log my day.

Then this morning happened.  Shawn came down to greet me with a kiss and a cardboard toilet roll in his hand.  That means that not only did he choose to replace the empty roll of toilet paper, but he also chose not to leave the empty cardboard roll sitting beside the toilet.  Glorious.  When I came out of the washroom, Nevin clapped and cheered, “Mommy peed!  Mommy peed on big potty!  Yay!”  Delightful.  And my friend showed up and gave me the best potty pep talk ever.  She reminded me that I’m not alone, my child is normal, and that it will get better… slowly (and slowly is okay).  Awesome.   

People, I am back on track.  At least for a few days.

*The Marilyn Dennis Show, sponsored by Sears.

**Side note: its funny how having a couple pregnancies and labours makes you incredibly thankful that are capable of pee-holding, isn’t it?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Today was a rainy, cool, soup kind of day.  They have been few and far between, so I decided to capitalize on the opportunity and make some cauliflower soup.  That, and the fact that my fridge is bursting forth with cauliflower (because when I saw cauliflower on sale at the grocery store for 3 for $5, I felt the need to buy three instead of 1 for 1/3 of $5... I always think irrationally in the face of vegetable sale tags.)  This soup recipe was pretty good and really easy.  Well, really easy if you don't turn the element on high, get a phone call, forget about it and get sent back to your culinary reality 10 minutes later by your smoke alarm.  That's how I know its a good recipe - even with the "smokey" flavour, it was still tasty.

The dark flecks aren't spices...

Curried Cauliflower Soup
(From You Are What You Eat )
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed, washed and cut into small florets
2 large onions, chopped
1 large knob fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T. butter
1 T. mild curry powder (more or less, to taste)
6 to 8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onion is transparent (don't brown). Add curry powder and stir to combine. Add cauliflower florets and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat florets with curry powder. Add just enough stock to cover the cauliflower. Cook on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender. Add milk. Puree with a blender stick or in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Saturday Morning Run

Can you believe I'm actually starting to look forward to my Saturday morning runs?  Its all thanks to the blog... I've NEVER had a positive attitude about running, but now I pay attention to the little pretty things around town or get lost in my thoughts instead of counting down my strides.  The yard sales help, too.

- Today, at a yard sale, I snagged a couple of pretty wooden baskets to bring home the bounty from my parents' garden.  Why does everything have to be plastic these days?

- When I ran past one of the second hand stores, I got thinking about old men's suits.  I kind of want to upcycle them into a shift dress à la PreLoved.  Probably never going to happen, but I'll add it to the list...

- I saw a poster for this event happening tomorrow.  If I wasn't being held hostage by my son's underpants, maybe it'd be a nice thing to do.

- The best thing about my run?  Running into an acquaintance twice (I guess doing a similar loop, just the opposite way) and high-fiving on the way by the second time.  I love living in a small town :)

Cute and homey, eh?

Friday, 5 August 2011

One of the best things I've ever made..

Scarlett is six months old tomorrow.  Today she had her check-up.  She weighed in at a whopping 19 lbs 2 oz and 28.5 inches.  Not the biggest six-month old I've ever made, but not too shabby.  This is one of the favourite days of my life.  She is about to start solids, but up until now she has been exclusively breastfed.  I've made her.  Her nose, her elbows, every little fingernail was made by me.  How often can you look at someone and say, "I made you"?  I made you.  There is no greater sense of accomplishment.

The only thing smiling after her vaccines.

(p.s. Shawn just read this, and I should note that he did contribute a half of a cell.)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Potty Training: Part I

Today involved a lot of pee.  I don't think there is anyone in this house who made it though the day today without getting caught in the line of fire - including the dog, the front door mat, and the couch (I won't tell you which one in case you come to visit...).  Today was day two of potty training for Nevin.  And let me tell you, at this point, no amount of praise or chocolate chips is helping those axons connect to the right dendrites. 

AHHH! A fire breathing dragon!

Its not to say there wasn't successes, because there was.  I know he wants to do it, and I have to keep my mind on the end game.  Its just challenging to stay patient when, after two hours of diligently reading stories to your toddler and feeding him muffins and singing songs, you turn your back to grab the other neglected child, and you return to see a puddle beside the potty.  Three inches away. The world will never have enough Mommy Support Groups.

I think he knew I was getting to the end of my rope because his very last pee of the day was on the potty.  Sigh.  Like a mirage in the desert.

On the plus side, Scarlett didn't pee on me or her clothes at all today.  I love how they tag team me.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Civic Long Weekend 2011

We were so lucky this weekend!  We were invited to two peoples cottages, and just by coincidence, they were only 20 minutes apart.  We definitely made memories, and surprisingly, got some sleep along the way too!  (Five children under the age of five sleeping in the same room can be a challenge...)

We spent Saturday night with our neighbours, on Ashby Lake.  This year with their 12th annual Family Bash, but my first time being included.  They have kids the same ages as our kids, so its great - we don't have to worry about our toddler being stubborn or our infant being cranky, because they are in the same spot and they get it.

Nevin and his BFF looking for fish.

After a generous brunch, we headed over to my brother's cottage on Sheldrake Lake and hung out with my family, minus the Western Division.  More memories made, more good food, Nevin's first S'mores consumed, and in the morning, more maple syrup licked off the plate.

This picture reminds me... is there anyone else out there who gets sun burned at 5pm?  No?  Just me?  Silly Sasha, thinking she didn't need to put sunscreen on after Health Canada's sun advisory hours.

Uncle Q, Nevin and Mommy in the paddle boat.
Both cottages only had a shower stall, so we had to improvise at bath time Sunday night.  We gave beer suds a whole new meaning.  Nevin thought it was fantastic.

Scarlett, always the thoughtful and caring infant, didn't want me to miss the sunrise.  So we spent both mornings on the dock nursing and watching the sun come up.

We have lots more pictures, but if you want to see them, you'll have to come over for a visit and a lemonade.
I hope your long weekend was a great as ours!
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