Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Morning...

...started at 5:38am. This was not because of excitement over Santa & gifts- in fact, E had to be reminded what day it was. It was merely because he wasn't sleepy anymore (aargh). I was somewhat comforted when I glanced across the street at our neighbour's house, and saw the Christmas tree lights on and a camera flash going off- they also have young children.

So, we hustled Colin out of bed and ordered up our Christmas capuccinos....that helped.

E had a great time this year and LOVED everything (he's full of love that boy is!) was so much fun to watch.

Colin got his coveted lined rubber boots, and has been happily wearing them ever since.

Hope you all had a happy and fun filled day....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the night before Christmas...

...and Dad was still busy assembling toys.
A beer always helps!

Ginger Jeweled Salad

I made this salad for Christmas Eve dinner. I'll let you know if it was well taster bowl for breakfast was pretty good! I'm not sure how the rice will go over with my's a pretty exotic move for them!

I did have trouble finding pluots, which are a cross between a plum and an apricot, so just used apricots instead. I also added some pomegranate seeds, just because. I think some bosc pear might also be good, or even oranges.

Ginger Jeweled Salad

1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice, made by grating a 4-5-inch piece of ginger into a pile and then pressing it against a strainer to extract the ginger juice
2 tablespoons white wine or Champagne vinegar
fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon jalapeno, very finely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup dried figs, stems trimmed, quartered
1/3 cup dried pluots, chopped (I used dried apricots instead- couldn’t find a pluot anywhere!)
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, loosely chopped
1 1/3 cup cooked wild rice, room temperature
5 big handfuls of leafy salad greens, washed and dried

In a mason jar or medium bowl make the ginger vinaigrette by whisking together the ginger juice, vinegar, jalapeno, and a couple big pinches of salt. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the jar whisking all the while. Stop when the dressing takes on a slightly creamy appearance. Taste and adjust the flavors if needed. Set aside.

Hold off dressing the salad until just before you are ready to serve it. This will help to keep the lettuce vibrant and lively. In a large bowl toss the figs, pluots, hazelnuts and wild rice with a generous splash of the dressing. Once they are nicely coated, add the lettuce, a bit more vinaigrette, and a pinch of salt. Gently toss until the lettuce is evenly coated. Taste and adjust if needed. The little bits of fruit and nuts tend to fall to the bottom of the bowl, so before serving scoop them back up from the bottom so you end up with plenty of rice and fruit on top.

Serves about 6.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas prep

While I'm not hosting Christmas (and that's a first!) this year (thank God!), I am cooking the turkey, stuffing and gravy and bringing it over to my mom's (who was basically guilted in to hosting but still managed to dodge cooking a turkey, for the 19th year in a row!). I'm okay with this, since it's been a busy fall and I just don't have it in me to have 20 people over for dinner this year. I can, however, cook a bird in my sleep.

I was home sick today, but managed to sleep for 12 hours, after which I had energy to start prepping. First up, stuffing....a traditional sage & bread recipe, which I've made forever and seems to be favourite. I suspect that deviating from this recipe would bring howls of protest, so I don't.

Next, I decided to try this, using some dough I'd thrown together on the weekend. While the results were tasty, my technique is lacking....still, it's kind of festive, no?

So, tomorrow, bright and early, I'll stuff the bird and roast it. Hopefully it's done by noon, so I can make gravy and carve it up, and pack it away in the fridge in preparation for Christmas Day. For Christmas Eve at the in-laws, I'm in charge of salad and I'm thinking of making this. Looks pretty and yummy I think.

The presents are wrapped, the tree is decorated and the house is (relatively) clean. The boy is wound up and terribly excited. I'd say we're ready for Christmas. Happy Holidays everyone.....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mmmmm....Ginger Molasses Cookies

Okay, so maybe I'm not totally off the Christmas baking after all. I think it's all in the type of cookie, and most importantly, that the cookie does not need to be rolled and cut out. That tries my patience. Or any kind of candy unwrapping / crushing / manipulating....not for me.

Now- mixing up dough, making free form lumps, dipping them in sugar, throwing them on a cookie sheet and having them turn out like my favourite overpriced Starbucks cookies, that's my kind of cookie. It's even better if it involves ginger, cinnamon and a big hit of ground cloves (don't skimp on the cloves!).

Meet my new addiction.....homemade Ginger Molasses Cookies.

They go equally well with a latte, coffee or red wine (and I suspect they would be really excellent with mulled wine) me, I tried them all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting into winter

Meet Frosty (and how original is that?!!)- a recent Sunday morning project by Ethan and Colin.

Now we're just waiting for the big storm(s) coming our way. There'll be plenty of snow for snowmen and tobogganing, and, of course plowing. Stay warm!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas baking & why I'm leaving it up to the bakery or my mother next time

We spent a good part of last Friday, baking some cookies for Christmas. I thought I'd mix up all the dough on Thursday night, envisioning a fun filled afternoon of rolling, cutting, sprinkling and baking with the boy. It all started out well...especially when sparkly sprinkles came out (and fell all over the floor), and the icing and candies were a big hit too. I kind of even liked the Picasso cookie people- a bit freakish but what the heck, we were filled with the Christmas spirit.

The button cookies were good, except buttonholes and sprinkles don't really mix (you had to be there)....which was a minor point of disagreement with the three year old, who was armed with a skewer and ready to poke the holes- I won. No holes.

Then we moved on to the stained glass cookies- which were way too much effort for a pretty bad cookie. I didn't even bother taking a picture. This involved unwrapping and sorting a bunch of Lifesaver candies, crushing them, rolling out dough, punching a hole in said dough, painstakingly filling the hole with a mound of candy dust (some of which had also joined the sprinkles on the floor), being careful not to get any dust on the cookie lest it should discolor them. Then you bake the cookie and watch the candy melt back to its original solid candy-like state, making a 'stained glass' window in the middle of the cookie. End result- mediocre cookie with a filling removing centre. So not worth it.

The shortbread cookies were good, just like last year, and they are being consumed at a pace that will result in no cookies by Christmas Day. Oh well, there are always the stained glass ones....

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ethan's Room

Remember, oh, like a year and a half ago, when I wrote this? I was all ready to start E's room. We'd recently moved him into a new bedroom and I was all excited to get started on the decorating. Well, I painted and moved in furniture and the boy, and then life got in the way. The fabric sat.
Earlier this fall, I finally whipped together a new duvet cover and some throw cushions. I played around with re-purposing some white curtains I had lying around, and then decided it wasn't going to happen. So I ordered some (still waiting), and committed (in my mind!) to making a valance. So, while the window remains bare (save for a blind) pending delivery of curtains and creation of said valance, the room is essentially done.