March break is long gone now, but it was a particularly delicious break because L15 spent hours in the kitchen. I made March break resolutions of my own to make double meals each night then put half in the freezer and also to try new recipes while I had more time. I started well with a new chicken stir-fry on the first night but after that L took over. She made a wonderful Indian Lamb Curry from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, which was enough for two nights and tasted even better the second time round. From the same book she a Blueberry Clafoutis with Blueberry Cream and some impressively light Raspberry muffins. One afternoon she and her friend P15 made sushi which we enjoyed while watching Pride and Prejudice.
A13 is cooking regularly as part of her school schedule. She has whipped up main courses, desserts, cookies, cakes and soups. One of my favourites was the Chocolate Soufflés also from Curtis Stone’s book. Her Beef and noodle soup was delicious and she made several varieties of cookies at Christmas time which were bundled up and included in gift baskets.
Recently Andrew went on an Indian food kick and for several weekends in a row we were treated to dals, rasams and sambars from Chandra Padmanabhan’s book Dakshin Vegetarian Cuisine from South India. He also made dosais for us to dip into the wonderful dishes. I don’t know why he suddenly came over all Indian; I did ask if he’d had a job offer we should know about but he assured us no. Perhaps it was because of the Bollywood movies we’d been watching.
Masterchef Australia is back and we are already hooked. Last night we watched the first episode introducing the fifty finalists then eliminating the first five. The first two challenges were a barbecue and a pavlova. Now, I’m no masterchef, but I can make a pavlova, it is not that hard. Although the ten people making it were given a recipe there were still a couple of disasters, the most dramatic being the pancake pavlova!
I know the producers are setting us up with some contestants to love and some to hate. Maybe that’s why I already like Claire, because she is going to be one of the darlings of the show. I just liked the way she was cool and calm; she didn’t gush and carry on like some of the others.
Tonight we watched the signature dish challenge which gave 7 a chance to cook in the pressure test for a position in the top 24. Some of the recipes in the “Signature challenge” inspired us. The crab curry did look great as did the twice cooked duck with coriander salad, I’m not so sure about the avocado chocolate mousse.
The repetitive comments and the hype is just as annoying as it was last year but no matter, we’re in!
As I write this cool things are still happening in the kitchen. We need to head off to worship team practice before too long so we are going to have half a birthday dinner before we go. We did the same thing last week when it was Andrew’s birthday. The girls asked if they could cook his birthday dinner and of course I agreed. L15 did cherry tomatoes stuffed with goat’s cheese for starters followed by fettucine in a creamy seafood sauce. After we arrived home from worship team A13 had a carrot cake with cream cheese icing ready for us.
It is now night and we have done all our eating. A13 did the starter and main tonight and L15 made dessert. A13 knows I love Chinese and she did a spectacular job; we had Pork Wontons followed by Hunan Chicken and Stir-fried Bokchoy on steamed rice. Once we got back from music practice we ate the delicious Lemon Meringue Pie that Laura had made, but not before the younger two children had sucked helium out of a birthday balloon and sung “Happy Birthday”.
While much of this wonderful food was being prepared this afternoon I was indulging in my current favourite pastime, watercolour painting. I have been teaching art on Friday mornings to the Group of 3, so I have had the watercolours out along with a huge pile of books on watercolour painting from the library. Today I sat down to try something a little different from the paintings I have been doing, but ended up doing yet another snow scene. Now is the perfect time to mention the gift my children bought me. The first thing I pulled out of the gift bag was a flyer for a sale at Wallacks art store…the other thing I pulled out was a gift card to Wallacks art store. Sale ends Saturday. Here’s this afternoon’s art. ( you can click to see actual size)
This account of birthday business would not be complete without a peek into the world of a sound technician. My job doing sound for the worship team Andrew and L are in has recently gained a higher profile. Instead of being tucked away in a room off in the back left hand corner of the church I now get to sit in a booth at the back of the church which is raised a couple of feet higher than everyone in the congregation. No hiding now when some unexpected and inexplicable technical hitch occurs. That is not the only change; gone is the 16 channel sound board which used to surprise me in many and varied ways. In its place is a pretty new thing with a few hundred gizmos and thingamajigs to do any number of clever and exciting things. I know that is fairly technical jargon, but I think you get the idea! All went smoothly tonight and L15 snapped a few shots to show you the cool new board and my equally cool new travel mug.
Birthday business has been very sweet indeed today, I received a lovely collection of calls, emails and cards from very special people and was totally spoiled and blessed by my family.
On account of it being my birthday today I thought that I should not do any school so that gives me time to document the whole day for your reading pleasure. The day started very early this morning when, although I was tucked up in bed, there were still noises coming from the kitchen. My girls were making preparations of some sort.
At a much more reasonable hour I came down to breakfast: pancakes made by L15 with a pile of presents on the side. The presents are all lovely and some will be featured in this post as I put them to use during the day. One such present was just crying out to be used straight after breakfast. Although it was my birthday and I shouldn’t really be doing the dishes, my children kindly allowed me to try out my new rubber gloves, not ordinary rubber gloves but cool ones with pretty “business” on the ends.
My kids are good like that, after I had washed the dishes they also let me clean the stove! Rubber gloves with business are a big hit.
The morning progressed with the girls getting down to work, it’s not their birthday after all, but not B9. He is under the impression that my birthday is like the Queen’s birthday, a public holiday for all. That being the case I decided to put him to work helping me bake Butterscotch Chip Dreams.
While I was at the computer updating the birthday business, B9 was setting out yet another edible treat. The jelly turtle has always been a favorite of his, but this time it took on a new look becoming instead the jelly lagoon complete with kiwifruit flotsam and jetsam.
I was planning to head out around midday to do my birthday laps at the pool but time got away over lunch and next thing I knew the window of opportunity had closed. Despite what one of my children suggested I do not yet qualify for the 50+ Vitality swim! Had I swum I would have put to good use another of my birthday gifts. Whenever I swim I usually return home wearing the alluring fragrance of chlorine. That is about to change.
I received a delightful selection of potions from a very pretty store. It came wrapped very prettily also. Apparently business was rather slow when my husband made the purchases and the woman who helped him was only too happy to gift wrap for him. The contents of the box came in a cute little bag (with ribbon) which lay amongst scads of tissue paper in a beautiful silver box (also with ribbon) which was placed in a gorgeous silver bag, which would have been topped off with more tissue paper had not my husband put a stop to it! I think she would have even written the card if asked.
Serious business is going on in my kitchen right now and I am not a part of it. Children who are happy in the kitchen are a very wonderful thing. (Birthday business part 2 coming soon)
I just finished a reading a book to B9 which we both enjoyed, “Dessert First” by Hallie Durand. It turns out the main character’s name is Dessert, but the book is concerned with dessert also, along with fondue, temptation and making sacrifices. We were a few chapters in when B9 asked to move onto a new book. I did not want to move on because I hadn’t found out yet how the child came to be called “Dessert”!
I thought he would like it as it was, in some ways, like the “Clementine” books we had read last year and enjoyed. His comment part way through was interesting as he said it was “trying to be like the Clementine books” but apparently it did not quite measure up. We continued and were drawn in by the awful secret Dessert was carrying around.
What inspired B9 the most was the recipe for Double Deckers. Included on the back cover, he was very keen to try it out. Finally I had all the ingredients and he made it last week. It is indeed rich and delicious. He cut it into 30 portions and is determined that no-one will have more than one a day. I tried several angles to be awarded a second serve, apparently the girls did too, but it didn’t happen!
I’m not sure what the deal is with those sleepy eyes of his. He certainly was not sleepy after eating a sugar loaded “Double D”!
Our older daughter turned fifteen on Sunday. We went to church in the morning and then came home for some lunch and gift giving. During the afternoon we watched the weather for a break in the ever present rain so we could squeeze in a bit of tennis. After we had played for a short time the black clouds rolled in and the rain started falling. On the way home we spotted a cricket match, a fairly rare event around here. Andrew stopped and chatted to the spectators for a while to find out that the teams were made up of Sri Lankans; Ottawa vs. Montreal.
At L15’s request we watched a couple of episodes of MasterChef Australia before our own MasterChef cooked up Shrimp Two Ways. L15 had asked for a shrimp pasta sauce for dinner which Andrew cooked but also made a skewered shrimp entree on salad greens. Both were delicious. We finished with a raspberry swirl cheesecake and time to watch another couple of episodes of MasterChef. I did mention we are a little addicted to it didn’t I. Not only has it changed our approach to cooking, it has added to our vocabulary also. We no longer talk about serving the dinner, instead we “plate up”. We sit down and deliver critiques on the food in front of us, encouraging each other to ” take it to the next level”
When we were about to begin watching L15 handed Andrew and I a gift, which was surprising, it wasn’t our birthday after all. Inside there was a beautiful card thanking us for our love and support over the last fifteen years. In the gift bag was a dvd, made by L15, featuring pictures of her from birth until now, with the Taylor Swift song, The Best Day, playing in the background. I was overwhelmed. Neither of us had any idea she had been making the dvd over the past few months. She found all the photos she needed and did all the work on a friend’s computer so we would have no idea. She gathered up photos a few at a time whenever she knew she and her friend P would be spending a few hours together without me around. Apparently it got tricky a few times explaining to me why she had to go over there, not stay here. The end result is beautiful and as you can imagine made me cry. It is not just the photos and the memories they evoke that mean so much to me but also her desire to thank us in such a special way.
Now as always she continues to bring us joy and bless our family.
I guess we are in the middle of summer, but you wouldn’t know it from the weather. It has been raining just about every day. Apparently Ottawa has already broken its own record for July rainfall. Needless to say the grass is very green and the weeds and flowers are very tall.
L14 and A13 have been at a music camp all week, as counsellors, not campers. The camp is for young Suzuki musicians and the girls keep track of their respective groups, supervising them in craft time and gym and making sure they get to their music classes. They don’t actually play violin during the camp at all.
B8 has spent the week with me. Not terribly exciting for him as I have been doing cleaning and sorting around the house. The painting is finished but we haven’t put the room back together yet. L14 will not move in until October as my parents will be staying with us until then. Less than a week until they arrive!
B8 has spent quite a bit of time with his lego this week including designing a new gadget for a competition he read about in his lego magazine. He has to take a picture and write a description of it. He has already written a short story describing how his gadget helped an agent diffuse a bomb! Today I suggested he make a house of cards. He has taken over the dining room table and has so far used 5 packs of cards.
Most evenings we watch MasterChef Australia. We know it has concluded in Australia but we are still working through the episodes and are down to the last seven contestants. It continues to be a positive influence on the chefs around here. Last weekend we enjoyed Paella with mussels, chicken and prawns. As I write L14 is preparing Mushroom Risotta for lunch. Mmmm.
Earlier in the week we celebrated A13 ‘s birthday with some good food and some good friends. She and L14 made a delicious breakfast of fruit salad followed by ham and eggs on toast. We watched as A13 opened some cards and gifts including a card from B8 containing rhyming clues which sent her on a hunt around the house for the gifts he had hidden . She was wearing some of the gifts her sister bought for her a few weeks ago when they went shopping together.
She spent the morning playing games with B8 and trying out some of her gifts. One of them is a set for designing clothes for a 2D mannequin. It is a variation on paper dolls but is all about the fashion design. There is no cutting out just loads of different shapes and styles which can be combined and then texture plates which can be used to make the different fabrics on paper. I might just have to try it myself!
Friends dropped in for lunch which was chicken and salad, cooked the way A likes it with Franks Hot Sauce. The friends were convinced to stay while their mother went for groceries which enabled everyone to watch the final episode of Gilligan’s Island. It was an hour and a half special made some time after the series ended where they were finally rescued. According to the keen Gilligan fans who watched it was not worth it!
Dinner was Sushi rolls, which A13 has been wanting to make for a while. We don’t make them often because they are time consuming. As a birthday cake she requested cheesecake so I bought one and made a gluten free one. It was not hard so I plan to make more in the future, and will play around with gluten free crust ideas.
As we have mentioned before we have become avid followers of MasterChef Australia, so we watched a couple of episodes after dinner. Not only is it entertaining I think it is having a positive effect on the culinary efforts of everyone in the family. We had a very happy and delicious day celebrating with our delightful Miss A.
What a privilege it is to be a mother. A privilege, a responsibility, a joy. My family made Mothers’ Day very enjoyable for me today. There were lovely cards waiting for me this morning, plus a model of a boat at sea made by B8. This afternoon we played tennis together for an hour or so and then returned for a delicious dinner made by Andrew and A12. They had been watching Master Chef Australia and were inspired to create something from the ingredients available to them. We sat down to a beautifully presented meal of Spanish Meatballs with baked Acorn Squash in an Orange Capsicum, Lemon and Garlic sauce on the side. To drink we had an Iced Tea and Ginger ale mix. The flowers on the table were done by B8 and the clean up by L14. Perfect.
Today was one of those days which didn’t go to plan, it probably went better. B8 has been coughing for days, not just a little scratchy cough, a big impressive, “that must hurt cough”. So this morning, just as I was about to start Maths with him I suggested instead that he hop back into bed. He agreed straight away. This is unusual for him, although he occasionally gets sick, he rarely stays in bed and even more rarely goes to the doctor.
I happened to have borrowed a book on cd, The Penderwicks which had been recommended by Semicolon, so I put it in the cd player and he started listening. I wondered whether he might go off to sleep but he just kept listening, taking a break for lunch and then going back for more. Whenever I looked in on him he related an amusing line or incident. Toward the end of the afternoon he emerged from his room disappointed that the last cd would not play anymore, in the last chapter of all places. It ended up not being a problem as I had borrowed the book as well. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and asked if there was more. We will try and pick The Penderwicks on Gardam Street up at the library tomorrow.
He is also engrossed by the Mistmantle Chronicles, which I am reading to him. We almost finished the second of three this evening. The characters are all animals (usually not a big favourite with me) living in towers, fighting in battles, awaiting prophecies and always looking for adventure with a little bit of romance thrown in. I am just as interested as he is, but don’t take quite as much notice of the battle details as he does.
While he was listening and resting, I caught up on marking and decided it was time to try a couple of gluten free recipes. I have hardly baked at all since I started eating gluten free but I would like to have a a variety of quick recipes that I can rely on for snacks and treats. The first were called Marshmallow Ooeys, and the name says it all. They are very sweet, too sweet, I think, but I really like the base without the melted marshmallow on top. I think it would work as a base for other toppings. The second mixture was for peanut butter cookies, which everyone liked.
I was able to browse through a few books for our Canadian History unit on WW2 also. Too Young to Fight: Memories of our Youth During WW2 is a compilation of memoirs by some of the Canadian authors we have read before and gives the perspective of the children who watched their world change and made sacrifices on the home front. Canada Remembers is a magazine style book approaching WW2 with the intent of sharing with today’s students the impact of the war on Canada and Canada’s contribution to the war on so many fronts. So my day of cookies and books was a nice change and hopefully my boy will be feeling quite a bit better tomorrow.