It's comfort week and I could easily spend our time together in this post complaining about the polar vortex snap that hit Canada, and most of the mid-west States, this week. However, it's too obvious of a complaint and it's also WAY too early for fussing about winter, especially since it's not technically Winter yet. Instead I'll get back to my regularly scheduled whining about the random circumstances in my day that make me cry. Recently, while I was doing a household chore that I dislike nearly as much as chipping ice from my windshield, I thought about how much extra time I'd have each week if I didn't have to go back to the grocery store for that one thing I forgot or if I didn't have to spend 30 minutes opening and closing the tray of our home printer to correct the mystery "error" that is causing the machine to hold the last few pages of Scarlett's current events project hostage. You know, the copies of the articles we needed, like, yesterday. I bet I could fit in that manicure I so desperately need with all my found time. Now that's what I call a comfort week!
Winter may not officially arrive until December 21st, but the white stuff that twirled and drifted its way to the ground yesterday said otherwise. After spending a day indoors with our two kids and two others over for a play date, the house was getting way loud by mid-afternoon. A rowdy game of Catopoly upstairs and an ill-advised archery competition downstairs sent volumes well above 11. Which, among other things, made it tough for me to plough through my usual Sunday batch cooking session. So, when Julian remembered a gift certificate he had been saving for ice cream I had everyone in their parkas quickety quick. Maybe an ice-cold day doesn't make your thoughts run to ice cream but I needed those kids out of my house!
Our little excursion was only a block away but it was exactly what we needed. We started with a jog over in the brisk air, had a messy session with the drippy soft serve and finished with the girls getting locked in the washrooms (momentarily). I got to hear about the newspaper Esme and her friend are launching (it's called Big News, watch for updates here) and which restaurant each kid would eat from for the rest of his or her life if made to choose. By the time we got back home some sillies had been burned off and the volume fell to a comfortable 7. I was able to whip off a couple of quick recipes by the time the parents came to collect their kids. This easy chili is one of the beauties now waiting for us in the freezer. It's a creamy, white version of a classic, red chili. It will make a great dinner and then fill up a couple of thermoses the next day. Warm, cozy meals like this are a small compensation for dinner, but for now, I'll take them. Read more
It's probably the world's worst-kept secret that Laura and I are both slightly obsessed with cooking shows. We love every kind — educational, competition shows, broadcast, online — and our kids do, too. And it's also possible that we sometimes stage at-home versions of our favourites. Ahem. If you're a cooking show fan, too, then you're going to want to get in on this action. Our lovely pals over at KitchenAid invited us to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown last year and it was such a blast. Well, it's coming around again and there's still time for you to be up on stage with Lynn Crawford, Susur Lee, Vikram Vij, Marc McEwan, among others, for a great night of culinary competition. Read more
I no sooner fell in love with this recipe that it had to be banished from my repertoire. My daughter was recently told to follow a gluten-, dairy– and egg-free diet due to some belly issues. It's only for a month until we know the evil culprit of her tummy aches but it means this little ditty needs to be sidelined–or have some major alterations done to it–before I serve it again. Buh bye ricotta and parmesan, it was so lovely knowing you. I mean it. It was so deliciously lovely.
After last year's epic winter, I'm bracing myself. Turning the corner into November signals the oncoming fun of the holidays, but also the time of lost mittens, being stuck inside for too many days and… duh duh duuuuuh: cold and flu season. And I'm scared, people. Just writing that gives the back of my throat a scratchy feeling. Last year it felt like someone in our household was sick at all times. It can be challenging enough trudging through a Canadian winter without dragging sick people behind you. (And by dragging, you know I mean cuddling and spoiling with extra screen time, right?)
So this time around I'm preemptively force feeding everyone immunity boosters from the get-go. Kale for breakfast! Citrus at every meal! And, of course, there will be chicken soup. Science has confirmed what grandmothers have known for generations, that a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup really does help fight illness. The combination of the heat, along with the protein and vitamins, really does your body good. I wanted to come up with a new twist on the classic and also get some traction on my kids' new sense of adventure with food. So I came up with this Faux Pho. Traditional pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, is often made with broth, rice noodles, herbs and rare meat. But in Toronto, where there are many fantastic Vietnamese restaurants, you can get pho just about anyway you'd like it — not-so-rare beef, chicken, vegetarian. I decided to keep mine very simple with a creamy base, crunch from fresh veggies and with no heat at all. But you could absolutely add some chilis if your crew is up for it. It's a very slurpy soup, which my kids loved. It makes a great, quick weeknight dinner but could be packed up in a thermos for school, too.
And if all else fails, there's always the couch, a blanket for the cuddles and extra screen time to spend a sick day with. Cold or no cold I'm looking forward to a Netflix afternoon with my kids watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. A funny movie all about the power of food? Sounds like the best medicine ever. Read more