Saturday, October 27, 2007


It was a rainy, windy, cold fall day today, the kind of day that screams lounge around in your pyjamas, drink coffee, hang out with your family and do a whole lot of puttering, or nothing at all. Colin is sick, I'm fighting a cold and Ethan's had a busy week- we all have- so today we stayed home. Never went out at all. And it was nice, different for us.

So, first thing, I finally finished another hat for my mom. I'd cut out the pieces weeks ago and then it sat. So, now it's done. It's okay, but not as cute as the other one, which I liked better. It's more of a headwrap with ties at the back. I looked kind of unkempt this morning while making it, so a picture on the table will have to modelling in my pyjamas is not something I'm willing to post!

After lunch, when my boys went for a nap, I settled into the kitchen for some cooking and what we call Saturday schlock TV around here, also known as the weekend afternoon movie on W network. It's usually a lame & mindless movie, often based on a Danielle Steel novel (remember her?), but it's just what I do. Now you know my little indulgence :)

First up, Cream of Mushroom soup. Colin loves the Campbell's version but I think I can do a better job with less sodium and less fat. He said he's fine with Campbell's, I told him he doesn't know how good the real thing can be. He rolled his eyes...oh wait, that was me. And so it went. But I'm determined.

So, I think it turned out great. I used portabellos, white mushrooms and a couple of handfuls of dried porcinis. Basic cream soup recipe (actually uses no cream at all, just milk and stock) from the Williams Sonoma Mastering Soups & Stews book. Really yummy. E loved it, had two bowls for a post-nap snack. Colin will have some tomorrow, so we'll see whether I measure up to the mighty Campbell's.

Then, I made these cookies. They're really really good.....all soft and moist and spicy. (Just so you know, I only post the good stuff here....don't want you to think that everything I make is "really really good"- sadly it's not!) They're low fat and I think the possible combinations of flours, and additions of nuts, seeds, whatever, are endless. My "helper" and I had a great time making these.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Cookies
Adapted from a Prevention magazine recipe
(updated after further "testing", on November 4/07)

1 ½ -2 cups sugar (I used organic raw cane sugar)
2 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup millet (or substitute some seeds or nuts)
3 cups spelt flour (or other gluten containing flour like all purpose or whole wheat cake & pastry)
1 ½ cups whole wheat cake and pastry flour or amaranth flour (or substitute a non gluten containing flour like soy, quinoa, or arrowroot)
5 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon salt
6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2-3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons flax seeds (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional), or use a mixture of other dried fruits
Seeds and nuts, as desired (optional)
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons water
6 egg whites
1 tablespoon molasses

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flax seeds and raisins.
3. Whisk together pumpkin, canola oil, water, egg whites, and molasses.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet. Mix together. Let batter sit for 15-30 minutes, if using whole grain flours like spelt.
5. Form heaped teaspoon size balls, and flatten slightly on a baking sheet.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool slightly on cookie sheet before transferring to rack.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I've been busy busy, there's been no time to blog! I'm not even sure what I've been so busy with- just life I guess. There was a baby shower for my new nephew, a trip to Toronto with friends to visit our friend Moira (who is making me a fabulous custom bag!) and to do some shopping, putting the garden to bed for the winter (although it's still so warm here I'm not sure when that'll be), some fall decorating outside, working at the preschool and a lot of real-job working, cooking and laundry!

I need to organize my kitchen, the utensils are getting out of control. But, how do you throw out beloved but (perfectly) worn and stained wooden utensils???? They all have a special purpose, or something anyways, that makes me hang on to them. Maybe I just need a bigger bucket for them all? Or better yet, perhaps I should stop buying new ones. I am a sucker for the kitchen stuff. And the cookbooks....two more are on their way and I'm running out of room. I really should weed some out.

Anyways, enough of my drivel. This weekend is mercifully free of company, no events, just a whole two days of nothing :) On the agenda- cream of mushroom soup, chicken curry, pumpkin cookies, some sewing (got some great new hat and scarf fabric last weekend in TO), pumpkin carving (um, why did we buy 3????), and assembling Halloween costumes for all of us. Definitely a big walk and a trip to the park if the weather co-operates. Perhaps that's an ambitious list. We'll see. Pictures of successes and failures to follow....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The best thing to ever happen to a turkey...

...was a serious de-boning! This year, for Thanksgiving, I tried something new. Because we had a smaller group this year (8 instead of the usual 16-20) and didn't need a 25lb bird, I bought a boneless turkey. It was essentially a butterflied turkey, but with legs detached and also deboned. The 6lbs of meat easily fed 8, and we still have leftovers. I am never going back to the the old way! No carcass, no mess, no digging stuffing out (and getting all hot and steamy!) and it all cooked evenly and perfectly. I made my usual dressing recipe, and simply laid the bird parts over it. Brushed on lots of melted butter, sage, summer savoury, salt and pepper. Cooked it for a couple of hours or so at 325F, rested for 15 minutes and sliced it all up. Everything was still hot when it hit the table. The dressing was better than ever (although not even close to being healthy, what with all the turkey juices it was swimming in!).

Because I wouldn't get gravy this way, I also tried a great make ahead method (courtesy of Terry Pogue on the FoodWine list). Basically you roast or brown some turkey parts (necks, wings, thighs) and vegetables (onion, carrots, celery), de-glaze the roasting pan, and then dump it all in a pot with water. Simmer for three hours until you get a rich stock. Let the stock cool, skim the fat off the top and use that to make your roux, then add as much stock as required to make a rich gravy. Add seasonings and a splash of cream, maybe some wine. Perfect and easy, lots of stock leftover for soup.

The rest of the menu included: red cabbage, sweet potatoes & apples, mashed potatoes, a beautiful green salad with berries, seeds & nuts (brought by my friend Barb) and cranberry sauce with orange zest. Dessert was a totally decadent chocolate cake (made by my sister Caroline) and a pumpkin pie, fresh whipped cream on the side. Lots of wine, coffee and liquers, then more wine and liquers to accompany a rowdy round of Trivial Pursuit.

I love Thanksgiving- I think it's my favourite holiday. I love fall, the colours and all the great produce at this time of year. I love setting a nice table, decorating the house and having friends and family around.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Good News

We had some good news the other day, regarding my mom's chemo treatments. She had her third treatment on Friday and as usual, before proceeding, they did bloodwork. The results were amazing the oncologist said- all levels were normal. He told her that this was remarkable and assured her that she likely wouldn't have any problems or delays getting through the rest of the treatments. So, hopefully, the worst will be behind her by Christmas. Although she's tired and nauseous, there's a lightning of mood and a feeling that the end is in sight. The treatment she had on Friday is the last of the "worst" chemicals they tell her, and the next three won't be so bad. The other piece of good news is that the tumour is not Herceptin receptive, so she will not have to endure a year of regular injections & related side effects, following the chemo, and it is assumed that the type of cancer is not as agressive as it could be. A bit of brightness, for which I am glad.