Monday, March 31, 2008

Checking in

Damn, I was really hoping to post more frequently. Where has March gone? Some house painting, furniture moving (because of said house painting), cabinet buying and installing, Easter weekend (that's the Easter table setting above) and more.....Now I'm just wrapping up a course- final project is due on Thursday- and then I'm free until September. As free as I can be, anyways- what with all my self-imposed commitments and all.

Stay tuned for my kid's new room, our office renovation, some new recipes and, if the snow ever melts, my garden...this year we're ripping out last year's patio plantings and starting fresh. And building a fountain. And adding other stuff until I love it. I'm like that, don'tcha know...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I've got a thing for fennel

Yes, I'm in love with a vegetable. Fennel. Could be worse right? I'm not really sure why I've latched on to it all of a sudden, because I've certainly eaten it before, but now it's a staple on the grocery list. So good, and so versatile, as it sort of takes on whatever flavours you cook it with. Nice licorice undertones.

I do a lot of cooking on the weekend, in preparation for the work week ahead, and I'm finding fennel comes in handy for that. I usually buy 2 or 3 bulbs. To prepare, I cut the stalks off, then quarter the bulbs lengthwise. Remove the core from each quarter, then cut each quarter into slices. Toss all the slices with some olive oil, a bunch of chopped garlic, some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or so, at 400-425F. Stir it around often to ensure it browns evenly. Smells divine!

Once it's done, I pop it into the fridge and use it in different things throughout the week. My current favourite is a stir fry with fennel, red onion, garlic, swiss chard, this wonderful herbed tofu, and topped off with some feta cheese.

First I brown the tofu with the onions and garlic.

Then I add a bunch of the roasted fennel, followed by handfuls of chopped swiss chard.

Cook until the chard is wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat and toss with some feta cheese. Voila, dinner. Great on its own or with quinoa, rice or even pasta. Next time I might add some tomatoes.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Try this soup

So good. I thought butternut squash and lentils might be a weird combination, but it works. It's a big bowl of goodness!

Chunky Lentil Soup
From Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Makes 4-6 servings

1 1/4 cup dry lentils, green French or beluga lentils (I used small green French lentils)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, 1/4 inch dice
1 - 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil, add the lentils and cook for about 2o minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and saute the onion until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the squash, tomatoes and broth and continue cooking until the squash is tender, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain the lentils and stir them in, along with the salt and smoked paprika. Let soup return to gentle simmer, then taste and adjust seasoning if need be.
4. Serve, topped with parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. (I used a dollop of yogurt and some green onions for topping.)

Update on my mom.....everything went really well today. The surgery took less time than expected, the surgeon was pleased with the results and my mom is in good spirits and doesn't have too much pain. She should be out of the hospital by Wednesday or Thursday, and on her way to recovery. Hopefully this is the end of it for a while...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Catching up

I've been busy....very busy. Don't you get tired of hearing people say that? I do, especially about myself. I mean, who isn't busy??? That's my excuse though, for my prolonged absence.

What's been going on? Lots. First there was January, with lots of snow, a friend's engagement (this didn't take a lot of time but it is noteworthy!), starting school again (this time it's a certificate in Project Management)- which has turned into a ton of work, a couple of dinner parties and general busyness at work.

In January I also decided to seriously address why I've been feeling like crap (not so eloquent a word but definitely reflective of what I've been feeling!), off & on, for the better part of four years. I mean, it's nothing life threatening, but an almost constant yuckiness and series of ailments, which have slowly been sucking the happiness and energy out of me. Sometimes I felt fine, most of the time not....digestive issues, discomfort, insomnia, anxiety, all kinds of weird aches and pains. I'd turned into a cliche it seemed...working mom gone over the edge! I've made the rounds of the doctors and specialists, each poking and prodding, scoping and x-raying. And really, that yielded nothing more than bottles of meds and the suggestion that it's stress, it's all in my, have some anti-depressants. No. Truthfully, I kind of blamed myself- working full time, raising a child, sleep deprivation, a sick mom, not taking care of myself, I'd gained weight, I have to exercise more.....what could I expect? But somehow, it just didn't make sense. I know myself, I've had my share of "stress", some worse than this, and I didn't fall apart. I'm stupidly optimistic and generally happy. I soldier on. I've just always been that way.

So, I went to see a naturopath, started a grueling four week cleansing diet, and within a week felt like a new person. New (mostly vegetarian, which is fine by me) diet, some supplements, a couple of homeopathic cures and I'm on my way- I can feel it. No prescription meds for weeks, down 25 pounds, I'm sleeping again, I feel good. I feel happy. I have energy. So, it's been interesting, and a learning experience. It's not like I was an unhealthy eater before (just too much) but I've definitely slid more towards the way my husband eats (he's a commited carnivore with a disdain for most vegetables). His life is changing too, he just hasn't realized it! My body just can't do it anymore I that I'm on my way to 40. So, I've been trying all kinds of new vegetables in different ways, and I have recipes to share. Cooking for my new regimen has taken a fair amount of time! More to come on that.

And I promise I won't go on and on about my health, I know it's boring when someone gets on a soapbox! If you see me eating something sinful, look the other way....everyone has their weak moments.

So, what else? Ethan turned 3 in, where does the time go? Big party, lots of fun. I love this kid and I love this age (most of the time).

And, tomorrow my mom goes into the hospital for some more surgery. This time, it's for a pre-cancer condition that has been aggravated by all illness and treatments. It'll be major surgery, with an expected 6-8 week lifting, no exertion, no skiing (you have to know my mom to know why I put that in there!) lots of rest.....are you listening Mom? She just finished her radiation 3 weeks ago, so hopefully it's not all too soon. But it must be done, and I guess we have to be grateful, with the medical system in this country, that it's being addressed this quickly. Hopefully all will go well and she'll be out of the hospital by Thursday.

That's it for now I think....take care.