BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Monday, October 28, 2013

I won't grow up!

Sometimes it's hard to be a responsible grown up.  The weather is too nice and playing is lots of fun.  So, I'll start by admitting that I didn't get through all the boxes last weekend... and I tried really hard to unpack this week, but I still have about 10 boxes left!

However it was only punctuated by a  week made me wonder at my ability to be the person in charge... and it wasn't just because I didn't get my chores done!  There was the fact that Uliana ate a leaf off of the philodendron, which I discovered after calling poison control is poisonous... she also ate a bunch of mud, playground wood chips and likely some stuff I didn't see.  Every time I fish the offending substance out of her mouth, so she is fine... besides the kid seems to have an iron stomach... for everything inedible (I still haven't tried eggs again).

Then there was the fact that I found Nikolai doing a handstand over a bathtub full of water (that one made me scream in fright, which might have been the wrong reaction because he subsequently demonstrated his skills to a much more calm Brad).

Just trying to get Nikolai to school in the mornings (with Uliana in tow) requires a juggling act that usually involves me dropping a few balls... (you needed that letter signed and returned today??!)

At the moment I'm blaming the move, teething (Uliana's got 3 new teeth this month), too much caffeine or not enough caffeine... ah well... I think it's part of being a parent with young children.  As much as we may look like we have a handle on everything... we probably don't... however if a miracle occurs and we momentarily DO have a handle on everything, it only last as long as it take for your 5 year old to decide to step in the bin of flour (to see what it feels like) and for your baby to figure out how to pull out the outlet covers (we had to buy a whole new set this weekend, because she not only was pulling them out, but trying to put them back in afterwards).

However, I have my super human moments too... so Voila a family themed Halloween costume put together in just one week for the Hallowe'en party at Nikolai's school.  Can you guess what we are from the photo above?

And a recipe for a seasonal Irish bread (most stores seemed to have a tons of these for sale at this time of year).

Tea Brack
Brew up 1 cup of strong black tea.  Use it to soak 3 1/2 cups of dried fruit (raisins, currents, chopped dates, prunes) for at least 1 hour.  If you like you can replace 2 tbsp of tea with whiskey.

Add in 1 egg, 1/2 honey, 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 cups of wholegrain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Bake in a greased loaf pan (or more traditionally an 8" cake pan).  Bake at 350 F (170 C) for 60 minutes. (A cake tester should come out clean).

And here is another party pic.  Getting these costumes together was chaotic... but if you squint your eyes and use your imagination, I'm sure you can guess which storybook (and movie) we're from!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Buried by boxes

We are still unpacking... and I've officially declared this weekend to be THE WEEKEND when we finally open and break down all the remaining boxes.  Not a small task, as we have at least 20 + boxes stashed away!  (heh heh)

Moving chores have taken over our lives, and we spent our long Thanksgiving weekend using my Mom's visit as an excuse to borrow her car to buy all the little things that we needed to settle in.  I also tackled one small closet worth of boxes with our extra day off, and I was left feeling very defeated.  Just 4 boxes collapsed for the effort of a whole day!  (heh heh... back to my weekend plans?  We'll see how much I actually get done.)
As you can see in our group Thanksgiving photo, my carnivorous son is holding a turkey leg (it was a happy, local, running around, heritage turkey).  His sister also seems to be a meat lover as she easily ate a 1/4 of her body weight in turkey.  It was truly incredible how much that kid ate.  Clearly they are both missing the "meat" component of their diet!  (I know there's lots of nay-sayers, but I make sure they eat lots of complete proteins, iron, B-vitamins and zinc containing foods, but their excitement over meat suggests that there is something they need).

Now for a vegetarian harvest celebration!

Sunchokes (Jerusolum Artichokes)

Sunchokes are a native plant around here, and they grow like a weed... in every way!  So if you have a square patch of garden that you can devote to sunchokes I would highly recommend it.
Growing: Simply put some tubers in the ground in the fall, or early spring.  They don't need any care other than watering in the dry summer months.

We co-plant with beans because the tall plants (at least 9 feet high in our garden) provide a natural trellising for runner beans.
Harvest and storage: You can harvest them all fall and winter long!  What ever isn't harvested will sprout up again next year.  And I am warning you... it's impossible to harvest all of these little tubers, so you'll be assured of a good crop every year.

If you want to harvest them all in the fall, then they store best in layers of "clean" dirt (free from anything that will rot, like roots).  At that point you can keep them in a cool room or outside.

Nutrition: Sunchokes are high in inulin fiber making them a great pre-biotic.  They also are a good source of iron.

Eating: Fresh sunchokes are so much nicer than store bought ones.  They have a lovely white skin that is soft an edible.  We add them raw to salads and stirfry's where they lend a water-chestnut-like taste.  Or you can cook them up like potatoes, though they have a stronger flavour than potatoes.

Here is a recipe for...

Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnuts
Scrub up the sunchokes, and peel if you want to (not necessary for fresh sunchokes).  Slice into bite-sized chunks.  At this point you can parboil to get your sunchokes for 15 minutes to make them really soft, or you can roast them right away.

Toss sunchokes in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Then roast at 425 F (200 C) for 20-30 min (until cooked and crisping).

Meanwhile toast some fresh fall hazelnuts.  When the sunchokes are done toss with the hazelnuts and herbs of your choice. (Parsley, thyme or rosemary are nice).

Now... back to those boxes!!





Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ode to the hum of my vacuum cleaner

Moving is always stressful... but our move last week was... well...

First there was the weather... which pounded upon us in a storm that had Claire stranded on the Island for an extra day.  It's not easy to move when rain is coming down in sheets.

Then there was the fact that the work that they were doing on our new place wasn't finished.  We couldn't move stuff into the master bedroom, bathroom nor the upstairs hallway. (It still isn't finished, but I've put the painter off for a month so that we can go away while he finishes painting the hallways and staircases).

However, the most difficult aspect of our move was the fact that Uliana finally started to crawl forward.  Which is great!  But she is the sort of baby that picks up anything larger than a grain of rice and automatically puts it in her mouth. 

So... we moved our stuff in on Saturday... the painter was sanding paint off the walls on until Sunday... and Uliana became mobile on Monday... So I have to vacuum every time we move a box to prevent her from eating a flake of paint. (I am not as worried about the bits of cardboard, paper, and lint that she's eating).

This weekend gave us a chance to really get settled:
-at least half the boxes have been unpacked
-we now have a washer and dryer
-and we had our first set of friends over for some cake... which was also the first thing we've baked in our new oven!

Honey Almond Cake
Cream together: 1 cup butter, 1 cup honey, 3 large eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Combine with: 2 cups flour, 1 cup ground almond, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cocoa, 1/2 tsp salt.

Pour into a greased and lined cake pan (I used a 10" spring-form cake pan).  

I topped my cake with peeled and halved apples, but any fresh fruit would do.  This is a very rich and sweet cake, so the fruit helps to lighten it.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 90 min. (This is a new oven for me... so maybe it's a bit cool?  I'd check it sooner then that.)