Friday, February 25, 2011

Foodie Resolutions

I apologize for being away for so many days—my laxity at the computer was due partially to lack of childcare, but primarily to the fact that I was cooking instead of writing about it.

It was a great week for socializing, with a mid-week parents' dinner party (quick cassoulet, a salad of baby greens, dried Mission figs, cubed St. Andre cheese and toasted hazelnuts, Christie's bread and peanut butter  chocolate pudding cake and creme fraiche for dessert). This meal was the impetus for my first foodie resolution of the week: someday I will make REAL cassoulet, from scratch, with beans I have grown, sausage I have linked, and duck that I have both raised AND confited. With this meal, I served a variety of pickles, mostly gifted to me. As I sampled the beautiful asparagus and green tomato pickles from two friends who spend a large part of the growing season working in their gardens and making preserves, I made my second foodie resolution: this summer, I am going to do more preserving, too.

A batch of banana cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese icing from Moosewood's Simple Suppers got me through two visits with other moms. They were on their own for an afternoon coffee visit, and then they got paired up with the leftover cassoulet (better the next day!) for a lunch-at-home date. They also served as dessert tonight when my parents unexpectedly dropped in for dinner. And there are still a couple left!

We've been invited to another foodie-friends' place for a little Oscar party, and the menu sounds divine: caramelized onion and blue cheese tart, goat cheese terrine, and vegetables with miso dip. I offered to bring something sweet, and since my only responsibility is that one sweet thing, that means I can spend a little more time on it...which got me excited! I pulled out a cookbook that has been on the backburner for quite some time (like, since I started having kids): Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker. I have actually only made one recipe from the book (several years ago): pistachio petits fours, for my best friend's birthday, and while they were labour intensive, the results were amazing. I flipped through the book, trying to find something that would have Oscar-worthy wow factor, without taking several days to pull together. I've got my choices narrowed down to a nutty meringue and chocolate confection called "Gianduja cubes" or "Caramel carmenitas", little pastries filled with caramel pecan buttercream (!!!). Flipping through the book, however, I found a recipe for Japonais, something that I first encountered at Truffles Bistro in Saskatoon, and have been in love with ever since. These are mini versions, of course, of meringue wafers filled with praline buttercream. Oh. My. So here is another foodie resolution: I don't have time to make those this weekend, what with the 4-page recipe...but I WILL make them someday.

One last resolution. I told you, I'm on fire this week! Have you tried Lesley Stowe's amazing Raincoast Crisps? I just finished the last of a package with my vintage Gouda and new jar of Stonewall Kitchens Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam just now. These are the most amazing and most expensive (well maybe not MOST expensive, but they're pricey) crackers. I keep looking at them and trying to figure out how to make them (it's a similar method to making biscotti). Anyway, I have also resolved to learn to make them at home so I can have an unlimited and hopefully more affordable supply. I've found a link that I'm going to try out. Likely this will be the first resolution to be acted upon. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bolognese to Believe In

Meat sauce, for me, goes right alongside lasagna and chili, in the 'I can do without it' category. But since those are some of my husband's favourite things, I still tend to make them once in a while. Tonight, I discovered a meat sauce making method that I can really get behind: roasting it in the oven!

The recipe that got me onto this method was Mark Bittman's Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Meat Sauce, but I realize it could really be done with any collection of meat sauce ingredients. Heat the oven to quite hot (425F) and add toss finely chopped vegetables (the eggplant was excellent), including onion and garlic, with ground meat (in this case lamb). Roast for 40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, and then add some fresh or canned tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and a splash of red wine, and return to the oven for another ten minutes or so. Thin with a bit of pasta cooking water and serve with the pasta of your choice (I chose Artesian Acres kamut garlic parsley linguine from Dad's Organic Market). The result was densely flavoured, and deliciously 'roasty'. I feel like I've discovered a whole new world of bolognese—bolognese and beyond!

Meal Plan #6

Back to being organized (at least in theory) this week, thanks in part to the long weekend. All I need to stay on top of things is an extra day off, once in a while...

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Meat Sauce from Mark Bittman's Food Matters

Red Lentil Soup with Greens from The Moosewood Collective's Simple Suppers
Greek Salad

Wednesday (Dinner party! Friends are coming over)
Quick Cassoulet from dee Hobsbawn-Smith's The Quick Gourmet (no duck confit here—Chinese BBQ pork instead, if you can believe it. But it's an excellent winter warmer, and should match up perfectly with the Alsatian Gewurtztraminer that I want to serve. Sometimes, the menu is just a foil for serving certain wine.)
Some kind of salad, haven't yet decided
Chocolate peanut butter pudding cake (after the popularity of last week's pear gingerbread pudding, inspiring D to chant "I love cake, I love cake," I'm all about trying similar recipes. And what could be better than chocolate and peanut butter together in gooey cake?)

Thursday (need a quick dinner so that we can be ready for the arrival of our kitchen remodelers (!!!) who are coming at 7:00. More on kitchen reno to come)
Egg foo yung omelet (will use up cabbage, peppers and green onions) from Simple Suppers

Rarebit Risotto, also from Simple Suppers (This was formerly a huge kid favourite, so we'll see whether it's still a winner)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meal Retrospective

This last week started off hectically thanks to our late arrival home on Sunday night. It's hard to organize a meal plan with no time before the work week to plan or shop. The good news is, on the road trip home, we planned our next year of major holidays. So all was not lost.

I managed to keep some tasty meals on the table with a quick stop at Dad's Organic Market on Wednesday and keeping in mind my standard meal checklist, namely:
• include vegetarian meals
• make at least one meal include beans

I have a new checklist item now as well, since Baby G just celebrated his six-month birthday:
• include ingredients that the baby can eat.

This week, that special ingredient was sweet potatoes.

Tuesday's veggie meal was also the bean meal: Black Beans with Roasted Peppers from The Occasional Vegetarian (a lovely cookbook that I haven't used in a while, but with this meal, may experience a bit of a renaissance in my kitchen), brown rice, and a side dish of cabbage, carrots and sauerkraut, from the same book. I was reminded again by this meal that black beans and rice, no matter how they are prepared, create an amazingly satisfying dinner.

Wednesday, I was aiming for that sweet potato hit, so I made for the second or third time Pork Chops with Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Apples. Simple and delicious, and matched nicely with our leftover cabbage side dish.

Thursday, I was heading out for a meeting around dinner time, so I gathered up some ingredients that needed using (beef stock, mushrooms and sour cream), added ground beef, and made a very simple slow-cooker version of meatballs stroganoff. 'The boys' enjoyed it with perogies and steamed beans and corn.

Friday night, while D was spending time with his uncle, we took advantage of having only one kid with us and went out for a casual dinner at Mogul Divaan, which was absolutely fantastic. In fact, my hubbie compared it to Taj Mahal, which is high praise. Especially for a fraction of the price. More on that when I return to Planet S's dining column...

Saturday, we discovered a new easy, cheap, satisfying dinner, loved by D: Bulk Cheese Warehouse fresh pasta and housemade sauce. We picked up a generous portion of linguini, more than enough for the three of us, plus a container of creamy clam sauce (although that was just one of several options). The deal is that you get the weight of the sauce in free pasta. So the entire meal (well, not including the bread, Leslie Stowe crackers, and several kinds of cheese that I stocked up on at the same time) cost around $6. And D inhaled it. Noodles, you know. They're the way to that kid's heart.

This morning, we hosted my brother and sister-in-law for brunch, and I served a long-standing favourite, Ham and Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs, sliced tomatoes, and a new favourite, cherry chocolate scones from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I found an adaptation of the recipe here, the only change I made was choosing 2 c. barley flour instead of the whole wheat pastry flour, which was an option in the original recipe. The scones were D's somewhat questionable choice for an on-going snack all day long. I don't know how many he ate all together, but it was more than a couple. Do the whole grains and dried fruit make up for the shots of chocolate? I tell myself, yes.

The week turned out pretty well, food-wise, but I plan to plan more for the coming week. Weekday dinner party, coming up!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Busy Mom Tip #6: Make Your Own 'Fast Food'

One of the most intensely gratifying food experiences (for me, anyway) is to pull ready-(home)made ingredients off the shelf or out of the fridge or freezer, and throw together a fantastic meal in minutes, all homemade, but with minimal effort. I will be speaking to this much more during the growing and gardening season, but it doesn't have to be stuff made from fresh or seasonal ingredients, soup stock being the obvious example. Sure, it takes a bit of doing ahead of time, but once it's ready to use, it couldn't be easier, or more delicious.

I have been repeatedly impressed with the benefits of having long-storing braising liquids on hand. The recipes for such ingredients tend to be fairly involved, and I confess it can be a challenge to find the time to make them. Most recently, I knew I wanted to make one, but it took a good month before I actually managed to fit it into my meal plan. But when I did, I made wonderful braised short ribs, and then happily froze some of the thickened braising liquid to use as stir-fry sauce, and stored the un-used liquid in the fridge, where it will last for months. I just used some of it to braise blade steaks, and it was one of the easiest meals I've made in a while: place tough steaks in a small casserole, cover with the liquid, bake for 2 hours, remove tender and flavourful meat with delicious sauce, and serve with steamed cauliflower and broccoli and brown rice. D inhaled the rice and the steak and then asked for more.

I've used the following braising sauce, as well as a homemade teriyaki sauce, both of which have amazed me with their fantastic flavour and their versatility. It can be a challenge to gather all the ingredients and find the time to make it, but you won't regret it. In fact, I'll bet you make it more than once:

Star-Anise Soy Marinade or Braising Liquid
(adapted from Vancouver Cooks)

8 pieces star anise
2 t. cardamom seeds
1 T. ground coriander
4 c. soy sauce
2 heads garlic, minced
2 T. ground black peppercorns
2/3 c. fresh lemon juice
2 onions, finely ground in a food processor
4 T. minced fresh ginger
3/4 c. organic cane sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
2 T. minced lemongrass
1 3/4 c. water
2 T. sambal oelek (chili paste), or to taste (I go light on the sambal oelek, to allow for D's tender palate)

Toast star anise and cardamom seeds in a dry fry pan, 3 or 4 minutes, until fragrant. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and store in a glass jar in the fridge. It will keep up to 6 months. Pour over short ribs, blade or chuck steaks and slow roast, or strain and thicken with cornstarch to use as a sauce, or strain and reduce by half, add honey, and use as a glaze. Or use your creativity, and see what you come up with!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kids and Road Trips

We have been trying to work out survival techniques for road trips with two kids. So far, we have only traveled for three hours at a time, mostly because we haven't needed to travel farther, but also because Baby G HATES the car seat. He's getting better, though, so there's hope.

This last trip, the timing worked out that we were traveling over the supper hour. We haggled over potential stops in Humboldt, the half-way point. We agreed on the way there to stop at Johnny's Bistro, one of the nicer restaurants in town. They were really busy, which resulted in slow service (a disaster with two small kids), so I entertained Baby G while my husband ran around after D. That stop cost us one sippy cup (left behind) and an extra two hours of total travel time, which meant we arrived at our destination at 10:30 pm, with two exhausted kids. The meal, hamburgers which included overly-charred pre-formed burger patties, wasn't really worth it.

On the way back, we were looking at arriving in Humboldt at the supper hour again. With some degree of self-loathing, I complained that I didn't really want to have to waste time on a sit-down meal (before kids, these words NEVER used to come out of my mouth), since we were already going to be getting home late. I suggested, again, with that same level of self-loathing that we opt for a buffet meal, so that there was no wait-time for service. Unfortunately, the only buffet that we knew of in Humboldt was at the KFC/Pizza Hut Express.

This story has a somewhat happy ending. We agreed that if D didn't wake up, we would just keep on driving and rely on the currant cookies we had with us to keep him happy for the extra hour it would take to get back to Saskatoon. D stayed asleep through a quick nursing pit stop with Baby G, so we didn't have to subject ourselves to the buffet (which I'm sure I would have guiltily enjoyed, and paid the digestive price later). D wasn't even really hungry when he woke up 20 minutes later, and was distracted by Baby G's screams of protest that he had been in his carseat long enough, even though we still had 40 minutes of driving to go.

To solve the supper dilemma, we called ahead to the Mandarin Restaurant (our favourite dinner saviour, and one of the few good restaurants open on Sunday) to order pickup. Their phone number is programmed into our cell phone for just such an event. That plan didn't quite work out smoothly, since we arrived to discover that restaurant was also busy, and our order wasn't ready. We decided to take the kids home and get them settled in, and my husband would go back for the food. We didn't eat until 8:30, but at least the food was healthier than it would have been at the KFC buffet. And we have leftovers for lunches. Hopefully today, we will get our schedule back to normal.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mango Overload

I was just gifted a case of mangoes by my inlaws. I'm trying to figure out what to do with them when they all come ripe tomorrow. I've considered freezing chunks for later use, but am not sure I want to have to toss them in sugar. Any suggestions from readers?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Product Placement #3: Anytime Bubbles

Just before Christmas, I was tickled to discover that Saskatchewan Liquor Stores were carrying 3-packs of 200 ml bottles of Henkell Trocken sparkling wine. Individual bottles of bubbles seem to me to be the ultimate in practical luxury. A glass of bubbly is one of (my) life's greatest pleasures, but it generally requires a special occasion to justify opening a 750ml bottle of it, since it is not the nature of bubbles to last. Selling this elixir in smaller bottles means I can enjoy a glass of bubbles without the waste.

I suppose some people might think that bubbly is a special occasion beverage, and that being able to open one at any time will somehow cheapen it. First, I would like to say to those people, if you're buying Henkell Trocken (at $14/bottle) to commemorate your special occasions, I suggest you invest a little more in life's important moments. Second, I like to look at it from the opposite end of the spectrum: having a glass of bubbly helps make even the most mundane moment a cause to celebrate. Tonight I had a half-hour window during baby G's up-again-down-again nighttime ritual where he was asleep and I could enjoy some crackers with cream cheese and pepper jelly and a champagne cocktail while I read my book. Hooray!

Monday, February 7, 2011


You may have already noticed that several of my recipe links involve It is my constant go-to for recipes. It contains a database of recipes from Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Self magazines, and their weekly newsletter is full of great new recipes and tips. And if you ever have time to kill, and want to have a bit of a laugh, check out their "Buzz Box", which shows which recipes have been receiving the most comments. While this will usually point you to the most popular recipes, it sometimes just points you to posting wars among readers. And then there's my favourite: the comments posted under the recipe for Salted Water for Boiling. Hours of entertainment!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

And Sometimes, We Fall Down

Regardless of how much I love to cook whole foods and eat well, every once in a while, I have to take a detour off the high road. Today, I opted for a weekly meal plan that is a little less ambitious than normal, while also learning an important lesson about when NOT to get off the high road.

I recently picked up some brie and a 'fresh' fig and balsamic compote from the Safeway deli, remembering the fig and walnut butter that I loved so much, and thinking that it would be a nice treat in the evening. I finally got around to them tonight, and I was sorely disappointed. The compote tasted watered down and not very fresh, which shouldn't come as a surprise, since it can sit in the deli in a plastic container for weeks. If I want a fig compote, I should make it myself, or at the very least buy another jar of the fig and walnut butter. It's more like jam, and so doesn't pretend to be 'fresh.' Even the brie was disappointing. I think I'll just have to hold out for a visit to the Bulk Cheese Warehouse in the next while.

As for my meal plan, I got the healthy and bean-filled dinner out of the way tonight, with roasted spaghetti squash and lentil tomato sauce. The rest of the week will be a little more pedestrian, but still (mostly) whole foods.

BLTs and sweet potato fries (I still have a chunk of my dad's home-smoked bacon in the fridge leftover from our pizza night. It will do wonders in a simple sandwich...although nice tomatoes are painfully difficult to find this time of year)
Our bread of choice is the multigrain loaf from Christie's Mayfair bakery. I never get tired of it, and I eat toast most mornings. Christie's is the main reason I haven't ventured very far into making my own bread...

Roast chicken, roast potatoes, peas, salad (I've been serving chicken a lot in an effort to get through the Hutterite chickens in my freezer, which are rapidly getting past their prime)

Sloppy joes (since we're heading out of town on Thursday evening, I was aiming for something freezable, in the event of leftovers. I (uncharacteristically) suggested chili, because I know my husband loves it, and we don't have it very often. He countered with the suggestion of sloppy joes. That's something I have never made before, so I found a slow-cooker recipe online. You can't go wrong with a recipe that calls for ketchup, mustard and brown sugar, mixed with ground beef. I'm serious! That's my favourite meatloaf topping, so I'm pretty sure I'll be happy with my first try at sloppy joes. Every once in a while I have to pull out the redneck ingredients and give a nod to my country roots)
As for veggies on Wednesday, I'll probably just cut up some more carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery to have with the leftover dip from Saturday's party.

Thursday night, we'll be driving home to my parents' farm, and having dinner somewhere along the way, so the meal plan this week is a short one.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Good Excuse for a Party

Much foodiness has occurred over the last few days, and I have been remiss in my writing:

Thursday: meeting with kitchen designer to review his ideas, followed by Vietnamese food delivered from Nha Trang to our friends' house. The food was excellent, as usual—we opted for the Vietnamese dinner for four (spring rolls, wonton soup, satay beef and vegetables, Vietnamese ginger chicken and tofu with tomatoes, and then added a special bird's nest (fried noodle basket topped with stir-fry) and salad rolls). Our children, amazingly, played well together, and it was in some strange way refreshing to only have an 18 month old poking at our five month old, because he seemed far less likely to do any damage compared to 40lb-D's usual hijinks.

Friday: prepping for a family birthday dinner, to take place Saturday. Supper was a momentous occasion, because D completely cleared his plate. The winning dinner was pork piccata with lemon caper sauce, simple roasted baby potatoes, steamed broccoli, and sauteed carrots and zucchini.

Saturday: spent today preparing for a homemade pizza party to celebrate Uncle Kevin's birthday. Grandma and Grandpa came, as well as six kids ranging in age from 5 months to 17 years. Keeping in mind potentially fussy eaters, I kept flavours relatively simple:

Veggie plate with dill dip
Avocado, radish and orange salad with lemon Dijon vinaigrette
Ham, black bean and mango pizza (inspired by a quesadilla I sampled many years ago—it has become one of our pizza standards) with old Cheddar cheese
Chicken, bacon, caramelized onion and mushroom pizza, with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
Classic Hawaiian pizza
My mom's amazing devil's food cake with vanilla ice cream

I started planning on Thursday, made my grocery list, and sent D and Dad to the grocery store Friday night while I went to my book club meeting. Late on Friday night, I threw together the pizza dough, to sit overnight. I have to put in a plug for my Kitchenaid mixer at this point, because making pizza dough has never been easier. Throw the ingredients into the mixing bowl, attach the dough hook, turn on, and walk away. It's worth the investment!

Made the cake before noon today and spent the kids' naptime (which they have thoughtfully coordinated again) chopping and prepping so that all of my ingredients were ready to be spread on the pizzas as our guests arrived. I reveled in my lovely ingredients, such as my dad's home-cured and smoked bacon, smoked pepper on the chicken breasts before we grilled them, and the liberal use of bacon fat as a cooking medium for the onions and mushrooms. I didn't manage to make my own tomato base, but instead relied on purchased salsa for the ham/black bean/mango combo, and a jar of fire roasted tomato sauce for the other two. The pizza was a hit.

And damn, Mom. Your cake is simply fantastic. It is my measuring stick for all cakes. I confess that I don't understand the goal of a 'fine crumb' in a chocolate cake. Any finely crumbed cake I've ever tasted seems dry. Mom's cake is moist and chocolatey, while managing to avoid being either too dense or too sweet. Topped with simple chocolate butter icing and good vanilla ice cream, it is probably the only birthday cake for me. I occasionally venture out to try new ones, because it is in my nature to search out improvements. But I have yet to find an improvement on this cake. Dare I say, at least according to my tastebuds, it is perfect.

Mom's Devil's Food Cake

Mix in a large bowl:
3 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
2 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
pinch salt

Make a well in the centre.

Mix together:
2 eggs
1 c. oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla

Add to dry ingredients. Then add:
1 c. hot coffee

Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate to cool completely. Top with your favourite icing and serve with ice cream.

I'll also share my pizza dough recipe, since I have tried several, and settled on this one as my favourite. I've adapted it from The Lazy Gourmet cookbook, incorporating whole wheat flour and being even lazier than the Lazy Gourmet in my mixing techniques:

3 T. fast rising yeast
2 1/2 c. hot water
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
2 T. salt
3 1/2 c. EACH whole wheat and all purpose flour

Place yeast, water, olive oil and honey in a mixing bowl and let sit a few minutes until the mixture starts to foam. Add flour and salt and mix by hand or using a dough hook until it forms a shaggy dough. Knead for five minutes (or just keep that beautiful mixer running for five minutes while you do other things). Let rise, covered, for 30 minutes, or in the fridge overnight.

Roll and stretch thin onto your favourite pizza pan and top with your favourite toppings. Bake at 400F 20-25 minutes.

I often make just a half batch, which is enough for one generous meal for four. Lately, I've been making the entire recipe and then freezing half, so that I have pizza dough on hand for a later date. Tonight, I used the whole batch, which made two large rectangular and one 12-inch round pizza, and fed six adults and five kids (baby G just sucked on a piece of mango) with probably a generous 1/2 a pie leftover for tomorrow. Mmmm. Pizza for breakfast! ...and chocolate cake for dessert.

P.S. I apologize for the lack of photographs. I will try to get better at that. Tonight, my husband said, "You should take some pictures for your blog." I said, "Go ahead, I'm busy." He took a couple, but they're not great. I think it's time to think seriously about an SLR camera...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meyer Lemon Jackpot

I couldn't believe my eyes when I discovered Meyer lemons at Herbs and Health. I have long been searching for a supplier of Meyer lemons, one of those ingredients that you always hear about in California cookbooks, but which I've never managed to find here. I bought six, not knowing what I would do with them.

I thought it appropriate to look in one of Alice Waters' cookbooks, as she is a fresh Californian food extraordinaire, and one of the first places I ever read about Meyer lemons. And what better to do with them than make classic lemon curd?

I had made lemon curd a couple of time before, using a Canadian Living recipe, but this time I decided to try Alice Waters' version. It seems that lemon curd is fairly forgiving. Recipes call for whole eggs, egg yolks only, combinations of whole eggs and yolks, different amounts of butter, sugar and lemon juice, but I bet they all turn out great (as long as they're not overcooked, that is).

Alice Waters' version came from The Art of Simple Food: Notes Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution, another one of those wonderful foodie gifts that I've received from good friends.

1/2 c. lemon juice (from approximately four lemons--I used 4 Meyer lemons and one regular lemon)
Rind from one lemon
2 eggs
3 egg yolks (and now to figure out what to do with the egg whites...)
2 T. milk
1/3 c. sugar
pinch of salt
6 T. butter, softened (or cut into small pieces)

Beat together eggs, milk, sugar and salt in a small, heavy pot. Add lemon juice, rind and butter. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon. Be sure not to boil. Cool and place in a bowl or jar and refrigerate.

I love lemon curd dolloped onto scones, or even simply spread on toast. It's also delicious stirred into plain yogurt for a sweet and sour treat. I may have to go back to Herbs and Health and buy up their entire shipment of lemons. Curd, marmalade, sorbet, and more...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Foodie Gifts

This year I got a couple of fantastic gifts from my cousin. After my most recent phone call in which I enthusiastically thanked her for the awesome flour sack tea towels with a butcher's diagram of a pig outlining all the possible cuts of meat, she confessed her strategy for finding me thoughtful foodie gifts: go to and type "foodie" into the search engine.

I LOVE the tea towels, and hope to buy more for myself to outfit my new kitchen when it's finally finished, and I will also make a place for the beautiful wood salt box that she gave me for Christmas. If you're ever wondering what to get the foodie on your gift list, you may want to start with Etsy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Busy Mom Tip #5: Delay Gratification

I just pulled some three-colour chip cookies out of the oven, in spite of the fact that at no time during the day were both kids asleep. Little G is growth-spurting and/or teething, which makes him notoriously hard to put down, and D's naps are slowly but surely getting shorter (cringe).

I was successful on the cookie front because I took two days to make it happen. I mixed the batter yesterday in a matter of minutes while making dinner, let it sit in the fridge over night, and it took no time at all to pop them in the oven today. The recipe I used actually calls for the batter to be left in the fridge overnight, since it uses 100% whole wheat flour, and this allows the flour to soak up the liquid a bit more. I used to pass over recipes that required an overnight wait, because I am not a fan of delayed gratification. Now I seek those recipes out, because they mean I'm more likely to reach my ultimate goal of enjoying freshly baked cookies.

Product Placement #2: MaraNatha Peanut Butter

I just dipped into a brand new jar of MaraNatha Peanut Butter, and decided I had to share. I have been in a peanut butter conundrum for the last few years. I know that mainstream peanut butter, with its added soybean oil, icing sugar and preservatives, isn't the healthiest choice. But I much prefer peanut butter that has a little bit of added salt and sweetener.

When I was pregnant (the time when I should be eating the healthier food), I caved and went through jar after jar of Kraft peanut butter. Just recently, though, I discovered a much better and absolutely delicious alternative in MaraNatha. The jars I've been buying still don't contain sugar, but the peanuts are ground so smoothly that the texture is like silk, and the nuts are roasted to the perfect point of having their own inherent sweetness. Since I opened a jar of MaraNatha, I haven't looked back.

I also just discovered on their website that this brand has a product called "smooth and sweet", which has added organic cane juice and sea salt. If I ever find that in Saskatoon stores, my life—at least as it pertains to peanut butter—will be complete.