Thursday, January 26, 2012

(Belated) Meal Plan #16

This week, I had the time to make my meal plan and do my shopping on Sunday, which felt very civilized. The weeks that I don't manage a meal plan, I find I run out of mental capacity to make decisions mid-week, and get stuck on what to cook. I hate that feeling, so I was relieved to get back on track.

My apologies to my readers though, that I wasn't able to post my meal plan until Thursday, in spite of writing it up Sunday. The sad truth is, I couldn't resist kissing my husband last week, in spite of knowing that he had a sore throat. The result? I spent the last three days sleeping as much as possible, and suffering from a sore throat. Still worth it, I say.

I hope you can still benefit from some of my ideas, even if they didn't arrive in real time.

Homemade chicken noodle soup

This is fast becoming a go-to standard, because the kids never seem to get enough chicken noodle soup. This weekend began with a trip to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market, where I purchased a small stewing hen for $3. I came home with plans to turn it into soup to soothe my boys' sore throats, and ended up with extra shredded meat for another meal as a bonus. Cheapest foundation for two meals I've had in a while!

Turkey with Red Wine Sauce & Chopped Dates (inspired by Rose Reisman Brings Home Light Cooking)
Baked Barley
Steamed Broccoli
Fresh green salad

The benefits of hearing my meal plan after the fact is that you get to hear the review. I used turkey because I had legs and wings from the turkey that I had dismantled and frozen before Christmas. This was a hunter-style sauce with a nice amount of vegetables, and it was DELICIOUS. It went particularly well with the baked barley (3 c. water, 1 c. barley, a pinch of salt, placed in a casserole and baked for an hour), with its homey, nutty flavours. We all enjoyed it.

Shredded chicken soft tacos (with a mild chipotle sauce a la Rick Bayless. I used half the chipotles called for, in hopes that my kids would be okay with the mild heat. D's response: "I love it!" G's response was less verbal, and a bit more conservative, involving coughing, sticking out his tongue and shaking his head back and forth. He ate quite a bit of it, though, and washed down the heat with milk when prompted.)
Avocado, radish, cabbage, cucumber, Monterey jack and homemade ricotta salata as toppings

Dal with Lots of Vegetables (from Mark Bittman's Food Matters)
Whole wheat chapatis, also from Food Matters
Raita and chutneys
Coconut brown rice pudding, also from Food Matters

We had friends over for dinner this night, and the meal, while simple, was filling and satisfying. I finished it off with the brown rice pudding, which took longer to cook than I allowed, so we lost the attention of the kids in the meantime. I liked it enough that I am thinking about dipping into the leftovers right now.

Stir-fried sweet potato and beef with Vietnamese flavours (also from Food Matters. Are you sensing a theme? On Sunday night, I sat down with one cookbook and found enough recipes to last me the week. It's a really good book! And I'm not finished with it yet!)
Brown/wild rice blend
Stir-fried green beans with oyster sauce thanks to Kalyn's Kitchen Blog

My brother was in town for meetings on Wednesday, so we fed him as well. I really enjoyed the stir-fried sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes to begin with, and the Vietnamese combo of fish sauce and lime juice goes pretty well on just about anything. I'll be making this again.

Miso soup with Bok Choy, Soba Noodles and Broiled Fish (also from Food Matters)

There are times when I try to predict how a recipe will be received by my family, particularly the kids. So many of those times, I have thought, they like everything that goes into it; they're going to love this! Only to get lukewarm or worse reviews. Tonight was not like that. I had thought, D loves miso soup, and soba noodles and fish. But I won't count on him liking this recipe, because that's too much to hope for. His response? "Thanks Mom! This is SO yummy! I love Mom's food!!" Can't get much better than that, and it kind of makes up for all the times he's turned his nose up at stuff I was sure he would love. We liked it too!

The boys didn't really appreciate the small portion of fish, since I followed the recipe the letter (except for the species of fish—I used freshwater burbot instead of salmon or mackerel). It was a small portion and both boys were clamoring for more fish even after it was all gone. Note to self—two fast-growing boys don't appreciate the finer points of eating less meat for health and environmental benefits...

8 oz soba noodles
8 oz salmon, mackerel or other fish fillets
1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. five-spice or chili powder (I used five-spice)
Black pepper
1/3 c. miso (any kind)
1 lb. bok choy, stems separated and chopped, leaves cut into ribbons
2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 c. green onions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Heat the broiler at the same time. Bittman says to preheat the pan you're going to cook the fish on, but I didn't do that. Add soba to boiling water and cook until tender, but not mush, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 c. cooking liquid and rinse the noodles with cold water until cool. Put one quart of clean water in the pot with the reserved liquid and set it to boil again (don't salt).

Brush the fish lightly with oil and sprinkle with 5-spice powder and salt and pepper. Place on the pan skin side down and broil for 5 to 10 minutes without turning. When the fish flakes easily, remove from the pan, break the fillets into flakes.

When the water in the pot is almost boiling, put the miso in a small bowl, ladle in a cup of the heated water and whisk til smooth. Add the white parts of the bok choy when the water boils, cook for 1 minute, then add the greens and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, pour in the miso mixture and the noodles, and heat just long enough to warm everything. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, garnished with flaked fish, sesame seeds and green onions.

I had hoped to do a family-style sushi night with friends tonight, but it may be postponed until Saturday, or until some later date when more friends are available to partake. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Waffle Recipes: Two New Favourites

While we all love pancakes, waffles are an extra special treat. For a long time I have been looking for a healthier whole-grain waffle recipe that has the right texture—crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and not too heavy. I tried traditional beer batter waffles (way too heavy), whole grain waffle recipes that came out like cardboard, and even the yeasted waffle recipes. Interesting, but not what my childhood memories conjure when I think "waffle."

This morning, I think I found the new winner. And I have a second runner-up which is not only delicious, but gluten-free!

Crisp and Thin Waffles with Loads of Fresh Fruit (from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook)

2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. yogurt or buttermilk
1 egg
2 T. melted butter
1/2 t. vanilla
4 c. fresh fruit, pitted and peeled as necessary (as we're in the dead of winter here, I served it with frozen strawberries and blueberries, and some cubed well as the choice of either chokecherry or maple syrup)

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and set it to medium high heat. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg and 1 1/2 cups water. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until almost smooth. The consistency should be like thin pancake batter; if not, add a little more water.

Spread a thin layer of batter onto the waffle iron; bake until the waffle is crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with fruit. Repeat for more waffles.

Quinoa Waffles (from Quinoa 365)

2 1/4 c. quinoa flour
4 t. baking powder
1 1/2 T. cane sugar
3/4 t. salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c. milk
1 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla

Combine quinoa flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, water, oil and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, mixing well to make a thin batter.

Grease or lightly spray a waffle iron with cooking oil and preheat it. Pour the batter onto the waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions and close. Remove the waffles when the lid opens easily, about 5-6 minutes. Waffles will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days, and sealed in a container in the freezer for up to 4 weeks. Reheat in a toaster.

The quinoa waffles have an interesting nutty flavour, and while they don't rise like wheat flour waffles, they are surprisingly filling and satisfying. Unlike other waffles I've tried, these ones have staying power. You won't be hungry for a good long time after a breakfast or brunch of quinoa waffles.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Days

The weather in Saskatoon has turned—to the kind of weather we expect in January. Still considering our mild winter so far, it's hard to stomach wind chill warnings of 45 below. I've tried to cope with the cooped up kids by building an obstacle course in my basement to encourage them to burn off some physical energy. I also made a new batch of playdough. This playdough recipe is the ONLY reason I would ever buy Kool-Aid, but as a colouring for playdough it can't be beat. It smells great, too!

Rainy Day (or Snow Day) Playdough
2 c. flour
1 c. salt
4 t. cream of tartar
2 pkgs. Kool Aid (or food colouring)
2 c. water
4 T. oil

Place all ingredients into a large pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the dough is thick and forms a ball. (Thanks to Park Heights Creative Preschool Cooperative for the playdough recipe!)

D also helped me make gingersnaps today. His cooking skills are really improving—I started off having him roll the balls in sugar and press them onto the cookie sheet, but he was perfectly capable of rolling balls the right size, so we did that together until he lost interest. He certainly gained back the interest once the cookies came out of the oven.

This recipe was created as a copycat of Capers Community Market gingersnaps in Vancouver.


2 1/4 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. melted butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 t. ginger
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. sea salt
1 t. cloves

Sift half of the flour, baking soda, spices together, and stir in brown sugar. Whisk together butter, egg and molasses in a separate bowl and stir into the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour. Chill until combined well, at least an hour or up to two days.

Roll into 1 1/2" balls, roll in granulated sugar and press gently onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will puff slightly, then collapse slightly, and be covered with little cracks. These gingersnaps are soft—no 'snap' to speak of, except at the edges.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Delectable Weekend Dinners or, "I Am Worth Seafood, Even Without Company!"

I know, the weekend is already over, but I am still enjoying the leftovers, and am inspired to share.

Friday's menu was a fairly quick one, but quite delicious and popular with the kids. I made the mistake of buying Panko crumbs at Costco before I realized they have a looming 'best-by' date. So I am working at finding many uses for them. This combo of mayo/Dijon and panko crumbs is fast becoming a favourite, both on fish and other meats.

Panko-crusted pork cutlets
Quinoa pilaf (saute chopped onion, carrot, celery, add quinoa, water and some Mrs. Dash and salt, cook til water is absorbed)
Baked spaghetti squash
Shredded Brussels sprout salad

I love love love this Brussels sprout salad, and even Baby G asked for seconds. It's like a Caesar-dressed coleslaw. Delish! The flavours of everything matched very well, with the lemon zest and mustard in the pork cutlets balancing really nicely with the salad dressing. Yummy.

Saturday morning started off with my dad's home-cured bacon, blueberry buckwheat pancakes, and basted eggs. To kick off the weekend, the boys' uncle came over to share breakfast with us. It was the perfect start to Saturday.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

1/2 c. buckwheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/3 c. milk
1/2 t. vanilla
3 T. canola oil
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 peeled, cored and chopped apple

Mix first six ingredients in a large bowl. In small bowl, beat together egg, milk, milk, vanilla and oil. Add to flour mixture. Stir until moistened and then gently add blueberries and apple. Fry on a griddle until golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Every time I serve these pancakes I'm surprised at how good they are. I've been making them for years, but lately we've taken to making banana pancakes a lot, because we always have bananas to use up. The blueberry buckwheat pancakes are truly my favourite. In fact, it's less about pancakes for breakfast and more about having a 'pancake day'. I made a double batch, and everyone in the family preferred to eat a cold pancake instead of any of the other options for lunch or snacks for the rest of the day.

I kept feeling the urge to invite people for dinner this weekend, but when Saturday afternoon hit and neither my husband nor I felt like doing anything (burn-out from my business trip and his full-on kid care and two resulting sleepless nights), we decided we should probably hunker down and hang out on our own.

But that didn't mean we couldn't eat well. I was thinking of using up the last of the scallops and shrimp that I had left in the freezer after my Christmas catering gig. We don't usually buy that kind of thing, since we try to stick with local fish as much as possible, and occasionally we catch a windfall from friends who have done their own ocean fishing. I was wondering whether we should cook seafood for just us, and my husband said quite forcefully, "I am worth cooking seafood for, all by myself, dammit!"

Well, that decided it. There was actually just enough for the four of us anyway, so it worked out well, and boy did we ever enjoy our Saturday night dinner!

Seared Scallops (and Shrimp) with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce (I just added shrimp to the pan along with the scallops, but pulled them out after just a few seconds, once they were opaque)
Simple Risotto (I didn't use a recipe, but what I did is basically repeated here)
Roasted broccoli and cauliflower (toss broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped garlic, place on a sheet pan and roast at 375F or 400F for about 15 minutes, or until browned and softening)

This was a heavenly dinner, and I enjoyed it with a glass of Joseph Mellot Sancerre, which I also used in the risotto and the pan sauce. Definitely a treat—but we were worth it!

My husband had stated Saturday that he didn't really want to have people over for dinner on Sunday because he likes some down-time before the work week starts again. We tossed that out the window when some good friends of ours called, whom we hadn't seen in FAR too long. "Sorry hon, they're coming for supper tonight." His response, "Oh, that's okay, it will be great to see them!" Twist his rubber arm.

We had a fairly simple meal, but I finished it off with a nice dessert, so it felt pretty luxurious:

Tortilla Pie
Orange, Radish and Avocado salad with citrus Dijon vinaigrette
Tres leches cake

Tortilla Pie

2 T. oil
1 t. cumin
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pkg. 10" tortillas
Fresh cooked, refried pinto beans (a la Rick Bayless), or you could use a 14oz. can refried beans
1 14 oz. can corn, drained
2 c. grated cheese (I used half mozzarella and half cheddar)
Handful cilantro, chopped.

For the fillings:
Fry in oil onion, cumin, tomatoes, chilies and garlic. Add peppers at the last minute

In a separate bowl, mix corn, cheese and cilantro. Set aside.

Have refried beans ready as well.

Preheat oven to 375F. Layer tortillas and filling in a springform pan that just fits the tortillas. Alternate fillings, using tomato mixture for one, then corn/cilantro/cheese, then refried beans. Finish with a tortilla on top, cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before unmolding and slicing like a pie.

Orange, Avocado and Radish Salad (adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian)

Citrus Dressing:
1 t. salt
3 T. lemon juice
1 T. orange juice
1 t. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 t. black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. olive oil

Make dressing by combining ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well and set aside.

Toss together: 6 c. mixed lettuce, 2 or 3 sliced oranges, 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced, and approximately six sliced radishes. Pour dressing over and serve.

Enjoy on a weekend, or any day you feel like it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Preparing for a Busy Week

I'm not sure if what I'm doing this week is really an official meal plan; but I am planning meals for the next couple of days as I prepare for a business trip that will keep me away for 32 hours (when you're still breast-feeding, every hour away needs to be counted!) over Tuesday and Wednesday.

I have once again been blessed (?) with a large box of food from my parents who are traveling to BC to see my sister and her new baby. This time, besides fresh vegetables (asparagus, a head of lettuce,  and peppers, as well as parsnips, three small cabbages and parsley (still fresh, which is amazing)  from the garden), there is a substantial amount of dairy product (yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, feta) and lemons and cooked wheat berries, from our Ukrainian dishes at Christmas.

I already worked some of the cooked wheat into hamburger patties for last night's supper, inspired (again) by Mark Bittman. I used the wheat, ground beef, and thawed frozen garden chard for my grain, meat and greens. The texture of the greens mixed into the meat seemed to slow my kids down a bit, but I still like how these patties include meat as well as a substantial amount of grains and vegetables.

I have to account for an early meal tonight, since my volleyball schedule has us playing from 6PM to 9PM tonight. I am about to throw a large, farm-grown half-chicken (that is, a chicken cut in half, not some sort of weird hybrid) into the oven with parsnips and a sweet potato to roast along with it. I will be going veggie heavy and serving roasted asparagus and peppers alongside it, and finishing with a salad.

I have to include a side note that I would never personally buy asparagus while it is being shipped from Peru, but now that I have it, I'll have to make use of it.

Among my own list of items to use up from the Christmas season is some mascarpone cheese, which is too pricey and too delicious to waste, so I found a recipe for fruit gratin with mascarpone and Calvados, which is in the oven right now. I don't have Calvados, but I do have my own homemade crabapple brandy, which I am using instead. Looking forward to a yummy fruit dessert.

I'm trying to build up my leftovers, considering I have to leave enough food behind while I'm away to feed my kids and inlaws who are going to be watching the kids. So for lunch I pulled some stuff out of the fridge and made quite a lovely minestrone-style soup:

Alphabet Minestrone

2 T. butter or oil (I used turkey fat)
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 c. cooked white navy beans, plus cooking liquid, to equal 3 c.
28 oz can tomatoes
1 t. salt and 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
Generous 1/2 c. whole grain alphabet pasta
1 c. fresh or frozen green beans, cut into 3/4" pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 T. fresh parsley
pre-made pesto (preferably homemade) as a condiment

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven. When it is hot, add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute until onion is clear, about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, beans and liquid, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Mash tomatoes with a potato masher. Bring to a boil at high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add whole grain pasta and simmer 5 minutes more. Add green beans and red pepper; simmer 5 minutes more. Stir in fresh parsley. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and serve with a dollop of pesto.

Tomorrow night, I will have a full-on roast beef dinner (although not sure about the popovers), and possibly an old-school iceberg and blue cheese salad, since I have that to use up as well. That should see the family into their mom-free time with enough food to reduce stress for all involved.

I figure when I get back home around 4PM on Wednesday, there will be enough leftovers to carry us through dinner that night. Between the packed freezer and the generous amounts of fresh stuff in our fridge, we should be covered. The grocery list this weekend was the smallest it's been in a LONG time:
• vinegar (primarily for the diaper pail)
• table salt (primarily for making homemade playdough)
• Miracle Whip (my favourite for making salmon sandwiches)
• onions

And that, as they say, is that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Organic Farmers: Hill Your Potatoes!!

I have a pet peeve. I regularly experience organic potatoes that are severely sunburned. I cannot for the life of me figure out why avoiding chemicals prevents organic potato farmers from hilling their potatoes. So I buy organic potatoes to avoid ingesting chemicals, and instead risk poisoning from eating green potatoes.

I grew up on a farm. I have hilled my fair share of potatoes. My mother never harvested a single sunburned potato, of the 200 hills that she regularly planted every year. Now I understand that organic farmers producing potatoes on a large scale are planting more than 200 hills at a time, and that hilling them all might be a challenge, but I am not paying premium prices to get poor quality and potentially toxic produce! If anyone out there knows an organic potato farmer, please pass on my gripe. I too will start seeking them out and making complaints. Grr.

Yes, one can avoid the sunburned portions by peeling them, but I prefer to leave my peels intact, because they help retain nutrients and are full of fiber. When I have to buy potatoes from a store, I want non-sunburned, organic potatoes. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Meal Plan of 2012

Notwithstanding the fact that this meal plan is being posted on a Thursday when it began on Monday, I hope this will be a help in planning meals for your family in the weeks to come, and you'll get mini-reviews for the meals from Monday thru Thursday.

Panko crusted pike with lemon, Parmesan and dill (I had hoped this would turn out better, as I recently made Baked Cod with a Panko Crust, which was fantastic. I used buttermilk and egg instead of mayonnaise and Dijon, and tried to put all the seasoning into the breadcrumbs. It had less flavour, and the pike itself didn't take to the treatment, being a little to dry and a little too 'lake-tasting'. It all got eaten anyway...
Barley spinach pilaf from Mark Bittman's Food Matters (it uses a whole pound of spinach! It certainly fit into my New Year's resolution to put more vegetables on my family's plates)
Steamed carrots
Leftover Beet tartare

Here's where I start relying heavily on Canadian Living's Eat Right cookbook.
Herbed lambchops with Tuscan beans
This was quite good and easy to make. The lamb we have right now is absolutely amazing. However. I have made a very similar recipe that I enjoyed much more, which I thought was also from Canadian Living. But now I can't find it. It finished the dish with balsamic vinegar, which I found much lighter and cleaner than the pan sauce for the above recipe. I have more lambchops to cook, so I'll hunt down the recipe that I'm thinking of and share...

Whole wheat pasta with blue cheese sauce
Raw veggies
This pasta served the purpose of helping me use up blue cheese leftover from my catering adventures. D was super pumped to get spaghetti, and even though it was covered in pretty strong tasting blue cheese sauce, he had two bowls full. The walnuts on top were an added bonus for him. He's a nut nut.

Lazy Shepherd's Pie
Steamed green beans

My husband's favourite dish is anything with ground beef, and Shepherd's Pie is a childhood favourite. I could never really get behind it, because casseroles were rare in my childhood home. And the peas get so mushy! I did used to love "hamburger goop" which in our household was ground beef, onions, celery, mushrooms and cream of mushroom soup over pasta. Lazy Shepherd's Pie makes both my husband and me happy. It's easy, the peas are still a nice bright green, and it's like Hamburger Goop without the canned soup. A winner!

This is going to be a bit of a 'seat of my pants' day, but I'm thinking I'm going to pull out my little package of chicken hearts and do grilled chicken heart skewers, along with rice or noodles and stir-fried veggies. I'll give you the update on what I settle on. The kids go crazy for chicken hearts, though, so it should be a popular meal.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We rang in the New Year in style, with eight parents and seven kids under the age of 5, and I counted myself lucky to have friends who love food and cooking as much as I do. I'm sorry to have posted this selection for New Years' noshing the day after, but I didn't know what my friends were bringing. I guess I did provide you with my menu a day in advance...

Besides all the food that I prepared, we also got to enjoy:
Caesar salad devilled eggs (YUM!)
French onion soup stuffed mushrooms (from (EXTRA YUM!)
• Crudites with Miso dip
• Roasted pepper and eggplant dip
• Assorted cheeses
• Hummous and pita
• Homemade chocolate cake (thanks to my hubbie!)
• Assorted Xmas baking and chocolates
• Butter tarts

We had one couple pull out at the last minute, and I think we would have had just about the right amount of food had they come. As it stood, there were a few left over finger foods, and far too much sweet stuff, in spite of the kids' best efforts to eat as much as they could. At the end of the evening, one little three-year-old said, "Mom, I'm still hungry." She said, "What would you like to eat?" He answered, "Hmm, I don't know. Something covered in chocolate?" He had himself a second slice of birthday cake.

Last night I had declared that I would take today "off" and not cook anything. We were planning to go to a New Years' Day open house and I had enough crackers, goat ricotta dip and beet tartare left over from the night before that even if I didn't cook anything else, I wouldn't show up empty handed.

But our plans were foiled by kids once again when Baby G woke up this morning, throwing up. We had an enforced day of rest, mostly sitting under Baby G while he slept. But that meant I had to think up something for dinner time.

I had some leftover empanada filling, and I had saved some whey from my cheese-making efforts because I hate to waste it, and I had read that you can use it in bread dough. So I made whole wheat buns, stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella. They were popular with everyone, including Baby G, who by 6:00 had rallied and ate several bites of a bun and sipped some of the goat's milk.

I am so very grateful for all my friends and family, for their love and generosity, and for the beautiful food they bring to my life. Some examples:
• Last night I found myself mentioning my mom again and again: I used her pastry dough in the butter tarts, she made the gingerbread men that the kids went crazy for, and my go-to birthday cake recipe is her Devil's food chocolate cake. We felt (and tasted) her presence very strongly last night.
• My mom's cousin very generously off-loaded dozens of litres of frozen goat's milk (and she says there is more where that came from), which all my boys drink (in fact, D refers to goat's milk as "boy milk" because only I drink cow's milk in our house. So that is "girl milk"), and which makes up a substantial portion of our grocery bills. The kids (and hubby) love it, and it tastes so fresh that I might even be convinced to start drinking it. It will also provide us cheese and possibly yogurt (more on that after tomorrow) for the next few months.
• My in-laws gifted me with Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal, a cookbook that I am madly in love with (and recently had to return it to the library), as well as a gift certificate to Souleio Foods. There are so many potential (and delicious) ways to spend it!
• Another good friend gifted me with Cook, Eat, Smile, a lovely seasonal cookbook
• "Santa" brought me a cast-iron frying pan, a cut glass beverage dispenser, a beautiful porcelain serving platter and bowl set, and a Le Creuset kettle.
• my neighbour brought us Cat's Claw bush honey from Arizona and some homemade rhubarb chutney.
• my freezer is full of beef, pork, and northern freshwater fish, gifted by my dad, as well as one and a half farm chickens from my mom's cousin and my mother in law.
• another good friend sold me gorgeous lamb for cost, and also brought another pint of honey from bees on her family's land.
• my birthday gift from my husband was a light garden, so I can start growing herbs and microgreens indoors during the cold months! I was so delighted to get dirt under my fingernails, even in winter, when I filled the pots with soil today!

My cup floweth over. And I am thankful.