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blue sky

You see that image above? This is not my friend.

It is currently 83F in Seattle and I am hiding out in the library of our ground floor/basement (never know what to call it but I love it because it is full of books and cool-in both senses of the word!).

The forecast for the rest of the week is more of this with temperatures possibly reaching the 90s mid-week.

I find myself working to keep on the good side of grumpy. I’ve been having rain fantasies and living-elsewhere-for-the-summer fantasies (a colder elsewhere, like Ireland).

This afternoon I’m fantasizing about my oven. About how nice it would be to bake bread, or a pie, or roast a chicken and root vegetables.

I’ve made a deal with myself that this winter I’m going to sit on our porch in wool socks and a fleece, with a cup of hot tea or coffee and enjoy the chill and feel very grateful for the rain…and I’m going to do this regularly throughout the winter!!!

For now, I’m going to enjoy half a glass of chilled Riesling (one of the few things I truly enjoy in summer) in my cool library and read some more of the excellent book by Kathleen Flinn that I’ve been whipping through the last couple of days. If I can’t cook in the oven I can at least read about it. Sigh!

The_Kitchen_Counter_Cooking_School_cover

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I am currently creating a cookbook containing all our family’s favorite breakfasts and baked goods. My goal is to give a copy of the book to each of my children when they eventually leave home and move out into the world. There is nothing like favorite childhood food to comfort you as an adult. As I create a new entry for this cookbook I will post the recipe here to share with you all. I hope you will enjoy it too 🙂

(FYI, I create the pages using my digital scrapbooking software StoryBook Creator 4 by Creative Memories.)

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This is one of my all time favorite recipes. Our entire family loves it and smear it with butter and enjoy it with cups of tea. It freezes really well.

Previous Recipe Pages:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Irish Apple Cake

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It finally rained here in Seattle! It happened on Sunday night. We haven’t had rain for 48 days. Temperatures have been lower since Sunday, though they are forecast to go back up to the 70’s today and for the next 10 days. I took advantage of the cooler weather to indulge in some baking. Although I have baked a batch or two of cookies over the summer I have really missed regular baking. At the end of the school year I baked some cookies and bread that I froze for summer use. I will try to do much more of this next spring. It makes it much easier to enjoy milk and cookies in the afternoon when I don’t have to melt in the kitchen to make it happen 🙂

Over the summer I have missed the taste of my Irish Brown Bread, Honey Whole Wheat Bread and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. So that’s what I made. The girls were particularly thrilled with the Honey Whole Wheat Bread. They adore it. It is very satisfying to make something that is enjoyed so much by all.

Interestingly, each of the recipes was a little off for reasons I could not figure out, unless it was somehow just me out of practice. Of course, no one really noticed except me 🙂 When the season turns fully I’ll have a lot more opportunity to practice and get my baking groove back.

Much as I would love the temperatures to stay in the 60’s and a little more rainfall, I am trying hard to embrace the end of the summer and start of Autumn. I am resisting my usual urge to skip right over Autumn and mentally shift into my beloved Winter mode. So far, it’s working. The lovely sunny afternoons hanging out at the playground after school are very pleasant with all four of the children. The girls are enjoying down time with friends and the boys are loving the freedom of playing on the playground with all the big kids.

Sean and Ethan enjoying a quiet early morning play on the playground after school started yesterday. They had a chance to play there a second time in the afternoon when school ended. The playground was much busier and it was a different kind of fun for them with the big kids around.

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I’m taking a little break from posting my weekly menus. My summer menu planning has been very successful and I am highly motivated to plan in a similar way for the Autumn/Winter.

While brainstorming ideas for this project I find myself thinking a lot about how much I enjoyed my mother’s cooking and how many nice food memories I have because of her.

One of my strongest food memories from childhood is the predictability of dinners my mother prepared throughout the week. I didn’t always like the dinners but I knew what to expect and could brace myself or, more usually, eagerly anticipate the meals.

My memories start with Sunday dinners. My Mum would cook a roast. Sometimes it was a roast chicken or pork or a leg of lamb, but my Mum also roasted more interesting meats such as a cow’s heart, or even smaller sheep hearts. Turkey was reserved for Easter and Christmas. Other times my Mum would boil a ham and then cook cabbage in the ham water. I loved a cup of this “cabbage soup” before dinner. Sunday dinner always consisted of mashed potatoes, the most fabulous roast potatoes I have ever eaten, and some combination of cabbage, carrots, and peas, with Brussel sprouts served only for Easter and Christmas dinner. I love Brussel sprouts and had a revelation about my beloved vegetable earlier this year. I am an adult now and I cook our dinners. Therefore I can cook and eat Brussel sprouts as often as I like and now frequently indulge!

Mum’s Monday dinners were a repeat of Sunday using the leftovers. Tuesday we had either Dublin Coddle or Dublin Stew (I detested the former and adored the latter). Friday we ate fish and chips (a Catholic Ireland tradition to observe fish on Fridays). My Mum’s homemade chips are excellent and I finally perfected making them myself a few years ago.

Wednesday and Thursday were a little unpredictable. I wonder if my Mum ran out of steam mid-week and then regrouped on Friday??? Sometimes we ate mashed potatoes with a burger (no buns) or a pork chop or a pot pie. Sometimes she would make chips on Wednesday as a very pleasant surprise because that meant chips twice in one week.

I have been recreating this idea of a dinner routine with my menu plan and menu board and it seems to work for everyone having the visual and knowing what to expect. For the coming Autumn/Winter I have decided to experiment with my menu and incorporate some more of the predictability and rhythm around food that I remember from my childhood.

Inspired by both my Mum and from reading the chapter on Rhythm in Simplicity Parenting I am currently looking at my recipes and will be planning our Autumn/Winter menu around the following food themes:

Monday (Pasta)
Tuesday (Curry)
Wednesday (Soup)
Thursday (Fish)
Friday (Eggs)
Saturday (Chef’s Choice)
Sunday (Roast)

I’ll post more about this before the end of the summer.

Anyone else looking forward to the change of season and the change in foods that come with it?

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Each week I share my weekly menu plan with you as I find menu planning and using my menu board very helpful to me and the rest of the family during the week. Having a plan, even if it changes over the course of the week, helps keep late afternoon chaos low, maintains a well-fed crew and keeps food bills and food waste low.

I find that if I write the list of dinners for the week on the menu board I can glance at it quickly during the day and remember what I need to do for dinner prep. James and the girls like to look at the board to get a feel for what to expect for the week ahead (both to anticipate and steel themselves depending on whether the meal is a favorite or not!)

I am still working through the feelings I experienced last week when I thought about resigning my job and it has impacted my menu plan this week 🙂 I am making a couple of deviations from our summer menu plan. The Cordon Bleu and the Swedish Meatballs are from our Autumn/Winter fare and I am working on a new meal, Pasta Aglio e Olio, which I have now moved from a lunch to trying it as a dinner and adding shrimp. Ahh, keeping it lively over here at the Bistro Pinguino 🙂

Note: Meals are subject to change at the chef’s discretion or whim.

Monday
Massaman Curry, Rice, Normandy Blend Veggies (Broccoli, Cauliflower & Carrots)

Tuesday
Swedish Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Baby Peas & Carrots
We have our neighborhood block party so I will make a big batch of this to bring to the potluck.

Wednesday
Linguine Aglio e Olio (with Garlic and Oil) with Shrimp, Green Beans
I’m trying something a little different than our usual Shrimp and Shallot Linguine. I’m trying to perfect an Aglio e Olio recipe for our family’s taste and today I’ll add shrimp.

Thursday
Chicken Pesto Farfalle, Brussel Sprouts (& remaining veggies from previous dinners this week)

Friday
Rotisserie Chicken Picnic with Baguette, Pringles, Fruit & Veggie Platter, and Fruit & Veggie Summer Smoothie for the kids.
We are having another family over for dinner and I am very happy about this. We rarely do this but I am hoping this will be the start of another new tradition this summer 🙂

Saturday
Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rice, Petit Pois (Baby Peas)

Sunday
As yet undecided. It is likely that we will be eating out as we are trying to plan a family day trip to one of the San Juan Islands but it has not been finalized yet.

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“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” -Barbara Jordan, U.S. Attorney

Last month while on my weekend away to Idaho, glamping at MaryJane’s Farm, I found this lovely white enamel lunch pale and milk crate with bottles in the MaryJane’s store in Moscow. I have been hunting for little milk bottles like this for about six years, ever since I attended srapbooking retreats at Katy’s Inn in La Conner, Washington. At 10pm, after a long day scrapbooking and socializing, Cindy, the owner and chef, would serve us freshly baked, warm chocolate chip cookies along with cute little bottles of milk. I fell in love with the idea of milk and cookies presented in this way and looked forward to it each time we headed up for a scrapbooking weekend.

I am now pleased to have my own set of little milk bottles to fancy up our afternoon milk and cookies. The kids loved the milk bottles, and what I am now calling the cookie canister, when I first presented it to them earlier this week. This is turning out to be a lovely afternoon tradition for the summer and I can see it working well for our after school snack during the school year too 🙂

Here are links to some of our favorite cookies:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

And here are a few other favorites that we’ll be enjoying over then summer (I just don’t have the recipe pages finished yet):

Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ginger Spice Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cranberry Almond White Chocolate Biscotti

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Each week I share my weekly menu plan with you as I find menu planning and using my menu board very helpful to me and the rest of the family during the week. Having a plan, even if it changes over the course of the week, helps keep late afternoon chaos low, maintains a well-fed crew and keeps food bills and food waste low.

I find that if I write the list of dinners for the week on the menu board I can glance at it quickly during the day and remember what I need to do for dinner prep. James and the girls like to look at the board to get a feel for what to expect for the week ahead (both to anticipate and steel themselves depending on whether the meal is a favorite or not!)

We are well into our summer menu plan now and it is making summer dinners a relatively stress free and pleasant experience all round. Yay for a little planning saving a lot of work!

Note: Meals are subject to change at the chef’s discretion or whim.

Monday
Chicken Rogan Josh, Rice, Sautéed Zuccini (Steamed Broccoli for the Zuccini-phobes)

Tuesday
Shrimp & Shallot Linguini, Green Beans &/or Sugar Snap Peas, Garlic Bread

Wednesday
Salmon à la Foil, Rice, Broccoli & Cauliflower on the side, Julienned Carrots & Onion baked with the salmon

Thursday
Summer Picnic hosted by James’s office

Friday
Japanese Curry, Rice, Orange & Avocado Spinach Salad

Saturday
Beef Meatball Marinara with Rigatoni Pasta, Artisan Bread (Italian Pugliese Bread), Broccoli (I might add a more exciting vegetable dish for myself. I’m currently enjoying sautĂ©ing zuccini and peppers and might add some onions and mushrooms to the pan too.)

Sunday
Rotisserie Chicken Picnic with Baguette, Pringles, Fruit Platter, and Fruit & Veggie Summer Smoothie

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