What’s Your Sign?

Challenging times…what do you do when  it seems like your values are being assaulted every day? Sometimes all you can do is declare yourself. Hatred has no place in my world, and I am disappointed to see anyplace that declares itself to be liberal, open-minded, and supportive of freedom and liberty, allowing the preaching of hatred, or the dissemination of fear. This has been weighing on me, as I watch my friends’ worry increase (for good reason). So sometimes I just ask for a sign. This was one I received today on my morning walk. Morse Street Junior Public School, thanks. I needed that.

Need a translation? Here you go:

 

Fill Yourself Up!

In an ongoing quest to be better every day, I’m always working on health as one of my priorities, and that starts with walking, and also with eating well. Filling yourself up is important – starvation, deprivation, and denial just aren’t sustainable. So instead it’s really helpful to focus on putting as many good things into a meal as possible. Empty calories are easy to banish when you choose lots of healthy vegetables, brilliant colours, lean protein – with a nod to Michael Pollan, mostly plants! This tasty salad has sweet potato, peppers, red onion, pink beans, and a tasty curry vinaigrette (equal parts Dijon, cider vinegar, canola oil, and a teaspoon or so of curry powder for each serving).

There’s more to filling yourself up to eating, though – something I have been discussing with a friend quite a bit lately.  It’s important to fill your mind with positive, helpful, forward-moving thoughts. Often when we are overwhelmed with trying to help others, we forget to take care of ourselves – but the oxygen-mask rule can help keep us on track. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ll recall that they tell you to put your own mask on before helping others. That’s because if you aren’t filled up (with air), you won’t be any good to anyone. So my favourite fill-up method is to get out for a good brisk walk, early in the morning as the city is waking up, and to drink in the sights and sounds around me. Today I was particularly inspired by the sunlight filtering through the trees in Allen Gardens – just steps away from skyscrapers and streetcars. That alone has filled me up with enough gratitude to last all day.

 

A Thought to Those Who are Working, This and Every Holiday

IMG_5974Labour Day. A day off. A celebration of workers. And yet, so many people are at work so that those of you enjoying a day of leisure, can do so.

I was reminded of this when my husband was reading me a reminiscence from a relative. They were talking about visits to Grandma’s house, where Sunday Rules – the day of rest – prevailed. There was no cooking. No playing. No “doing stuff”. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who had grandparents who wouldn’t drive their car, because someone might have to work on the Lord’s Day to pump gas, nor do shopping even if something was open, or even turn on the television, when a book (the Good One?) would suffice. For me, it’s not about the not labouring any more. Rather, it’s about giving respect to those who do.

In this country, and wherever you read this, there are thousands of people who work the holidays. Some are paid, some are volunteers. They all make days off better for the rest of us, and I hope you appreciate all they do, as much as I do. Happy Labour Day, Canada.

Bake on Saturday, Loaf Around Sunday

After a quick trip to the T-Dot to visit the kids and the in-laws, life is getting back to normal, food wise, at least. Yesterday I baked an updated version of English muffin loaf, with multigrain flour instead of white. It’s a fast mix, no kneading, and you can ignore it and do other chores during the rising. Here’s the recipe:

2c plus 1 T/265 ml  multigrain flour (make your own or try a mix including bran, rye, oat, spelt, kamut, or cracked wheat, and flax or sesame seeds if you like)

1T/15 ml or 1 packet active dry yeast

2t/10ml brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup)

1c/250ml lukewarm 1% milk (any milk will work, including nut milk)

1/4t/2 ml baking soda

Mix dry ingredients (except soda) in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter, then for 15-20 seconds more until it looks stretchy. 

Cover with a tea towel in a warm place and let rise for about 45 minutes til double.

Dissolve soda in 1T/15ml water and stir vigorously into batter, continuing just until it looks stretchy again. 

Grease or spray an 8″ loaf pan. Scrape batter in, cover with towel and allow to rise again about 40 minutes.

Bake in a 375 oven 45-55 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from pan right away.

Tastes best when toasted.

We had ours with a pepper and mushroom omelette. The sun is finally doing its work and the snow is beginning to recede. Thankfully, we just might see spring after all.

Spring Forward and Wake Up!

Adjusting to the time change? Start the day with a spicy breakfast that will wake up both you…and your taste buds. With a busy week ahead, we need to make sure we are fueled-up and energized to make the most of every opportunity.

On the plate, a healthy and budget-conscious combo – leftover olive, onion and mushroom whole wheat pizza is topped by a poached egg. We sprinkled two salt-free spice blends on top; one lemony and the other with a hint of chipotle. Sliced blood orange add a few extra vitamins and enhance flavour with a citrus note. After a week of “road food”, we’re especially grateful for a taste of home.

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With a salad, this would also be a great dinner time combination for those of you who have given up eating meat for Lent.

Nice Ideas from Nice

As February begins, we start to consider more springlike foods – the occasional bursts of sunshine and milder temperatures seem to mitigate the wintry desire for comfort and cocooning. The Niçoise salad seems to perfectly capture everything we look forward to – and this adaptation combines winter’s preserves, like capers and olives, with the local hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes that are appearing more frequently at the market.

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It's a Blue Kind of Day

ImageWhat a wild weather week we’ve had! From knee-deep snow and frigid temperatures, the thermometer dropped yesterday and we had rain and high winds overnight. Now the sun is doing her best to break through the clouds, illuminating spots in the woods with her brilliant gaze. We’ve put the slow cooker on for a pot-roast dinner, and prepared for whatever the blustery day brings with some blueberry whole-wheat pancakes.

Whatever the weather, we’re grateful – for friends, family (thanks for the call last night!), and the good fortune to live with a big garden, great neighbours, and a view of the Bay.

Pizza a la Parisienne???

On our first family trip to Paris, we discovered the delight of pizza topped with egg. To be fair, the first time it was probably a novelty order. But since then, we’ve tried to recreate this many times. It’s hard to do it properly without a pizza oven – the egg over cooks or doesn’t cook quickly enough. Today’s solution: leftover whole wheat pepper and mushroom pesto pizza, topped with a perfectly poached egg. A great start to the day.

Mindful that there are others who do not have enough to eat, please join us by donating to your local food bank or Philippine relief.

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Hole-y Toast!

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This is one of our favourite breakfasts, especially if there are kids around. For some reason we have always called it toad in the hole, even though that moniker seems to apply to a host of other dishes. No matter what you call it, the appeal of having an egg cooked right into the toast, and a tiny toast circle to mop up the egg yolk, never gets old.

Butter a piece of bread for each person. Melt a little more butter in your frying pan or on a griddle. Cut a circle out of each bread using a cookie cutter, or a drinking glass. Put all of the pieces in the frying pan, butter side up. Crack in an egg. When you can start to see that the bottom is cooked (check the circles!), flip the pieces. Cook until they are as done as you like, and enjoy with some fresh tomato – or even a spoonful of guacamole and salsa.

Today is Remembrance Day. Please take time at 11am to remember those who have fought to gain the freedom and democracy you enjoy.

Spice Up Your Salad!

La princessa and her parents left this morning and now the house is eerily quiet. We’re so grateful to have had them with us for a few days, and glad they enjoyed our city by the sea.

Today is also the day we get our diet and exercise routine back on track – so here’s an easy meal to kick things off, for two:

Leftover grilled steak, about 250ml/1c, sliced thin

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 5 ml each butter and olive oil, and cook, covered, just til tender:

1 sliced onion
2 sliced mushrooms
1 sliced green pepper

Add steak slices and a sprinkling of chipotle powder or a minced Jalapeño.

Serve over 500ml/2c mixed greens.

We’re fortunate to have greens from our own garden, but use a variety to make it more interesting.

Enjoy!

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