Recently I showed up at a friend’s house for dinner, and by the look on her husband’s face when he opened the door, I knew something was very wrong. Actually, allow me to rephrase that. Something was very wrong with me. He stammered a quick hello, smiled (laughed, if we’re being honest here) and let me in. I handed him the box I was carrying and rather self-consciously removed my hat, coat and scarf, peeking out from under my bangs at his still slightly dubious smirk. In my head I took imaginary stock of what he could be gawking at so malevolently.
Did I have paint in my hair? Something huge and disgusting stuck in my teeth? Only half of my makeup done? All were distinct possibilities.
Finally I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and asked him what the heck was the matter. He smiled (laughed…see above) and turned to his wife who was coming down the hall at that moment. She smiled at me, warmly, and turned me towards the hall mirror. I went white. Seriously – I had turned white in the few scant hours since I’d last looked in the mirror. Somehow the icing sugar from the pastries I had made that afternoon had ended up all over me. And I uh, forgot to look in the mirror before rushing out the door, the guilty-party-pastries boxed up for dessert.
Of course I laughed it off and managed to clean myself up in their hall bathroom before joining the rest of the dinner party. It (I) became a running joke that evening – everyone coming up with their own names for the light and airy pastries that had caused all the ruckus.Read More
Every summer, for about as long as I can remember, my parents have planted tomato plants in their backyard garden. That’s what Victoria Day is for — as long as it’s not pouring rain or freezing cold (both good possibilities up here in the great white north) — planting the vegetable and herb gardens.
On the south side of the yard, where the sun shines the strongest and where the soil has grown vegetables and herbs for more than forty years…that’s where they go. I would make the trip to the nursery and pick out each plant as though it might be a piece of beautiful jewelry, carrying them home in the plastic trays, watching them bounce up and down on the seat next to me. The smell was always what I loved most in the beginning — the smell of freshly growing tomato plants is something beautiful and simple…it’s the smell of sweet and savory combined in one.
Inspiration strikes in mysterious ways – many things wouldn’t exist without it. For me, when it comes to cooking, inspiration is doubly important because sometimes, frankly, I have no idea what to do. Many nights, inspiration is non-existent at 5pm when I get home from work and I’m tired and hungry. Picking Leith up at school, getting hats and mittens and boots on and getting him home is a trial in itself. At these times that bag of digestive cookies really looks quite a lot like dinner…maybe with an orange juice chaser for a vegetable/fruit course.Read More
I used to be dreadful with accepting change. Having a child, I am now a roller-with-the-puncher, a flyer-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal; the parent of an utterly astounding kinder. I always knew having a child would change my life. I knew that having a child would probably change the way I ate and the way I cooked – for myself as well as for him. I knew I would be the type of A-personality mum who made her child’s food with both gratification and determination…it’s purely who I am. Remember: I’m not good with change.Read More
My favourite book as a child was about a family of bears who wander through the woods behind their house. They venture between the rocks, around the lake and up Spook Hill, where they encounter an owl who howls loudly (mimicked extremely well by my father at the time). The bears turn tail and run all the way, down Spook Hill, back around the lake and between the rocks…home through the window to their bed in their well-lit, completely safe home. I’m not sure if it was the howling, the suspense or the running home that grabbed my attention, but something in that book did. It grabbed me and held onto me virtually every night for many years of my childhood.
Last night I was awakened by a similar howling, coming from Leith’s room. I slowly emerged from the warm, comfortable sleep in which I was indulging and lay there in the dark, wondering what the noise was. I heard another long howl and my feet immediately hit the floor. I wasn’t quite awake when I found myself beside Leith’s bed, gazing down at my loveable son who was crying his little heart out. I bundled him up in his blanket and sat down with him in my lap and rocked him back and forth, whispering to him over and over that he was going to be okay.
After a few minutes he had calmed down, was heavy and warm in my arms and ready to go back to his bed. I tucked him in, said good night and went back to my own room. After about two minutes the crying started again – not as loud or as determined as before but still plaintive and heart wrenching. He stopped on his own this time but I couldn’t sleep anymore so I got up, put on my slippers and padded to the kitchen.
What do you do at 3 am when you can’t get back to sleep? I don’t find that the old warm milk trick does anything for me. A nice hot cup of peppermint tea is more my speed…and something sweet on the side to fill my belly enough that I can get back to sleep. Luckily, I keep some tidbits in my freezer for just these occasions. Slices of dessert bread or cookie dough, in small packages, ready for the oven; awaiting me when I need them most. All I have to do is turn on the toaster oven, pop one of these little beauties in for a few minutes (about as long as it takes to boil water for a cup of tea). Soon I’m seated, wrapped in my ruby red chenille throw, sipping my tea and munching on something sweet.
It calmed my nerves and obviously Leith’s as well because he didn’t wake again over night. I am still not sure what it was that woke him in the first place. The howling noises I made while reading his favourite book over and over? Another cold? Missing his father? Who knows. But he slept – much like a baby – the rest of the night, as did I after having my small, sweet treat and a few sips of tea.Read More
“Breakfast for dinner” is a phrase that is turned quite often in my parents house. My mom LOVES it (but at her own concession, the woman worships anything that might come with bacon), my dad enjoys it a lot, and my brothers? Well, “Bacon and eggs? Now? You mean for dinner? Um, okay, why not?” is sort of their general attitude. Actually “why not?” seems to be their general attitude about everything, I think…they’re men. So I grew up in a house where breakfast for dinner was a semi-regular occurrence and I became rather attached to the idea myself.
Leith has wholeheartedly embraced this idea and eggs are probably one of his favourite meals. He likes his eggs every-which-way-but-loose, to be honest.