Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Handsome in Pink...

Today was an anti-bullying day at my kids school. All children were encouraged to wear the colour pink. No biggie for Georgia, she is a big fan. Shep owns nothing pink. A little coral, some yellow, but no pink. So, off to Michaels I went and purchased him a hot pink tee. I sassed it up a bit (more is more after all). He rocked it, and I am happy to report he loved it just as much at the end of the day after showing it off to his peers. 

Hot pink rebel xo

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Mama, there's dirt in my sugar"...

It is a very early 3am, and it would seem the cold I have been dodging thus far has caught up with me. I have had a hot shower, a hot drink and still I am wide awake...the perfect time to catch up on a few posts I had good intentions for, but didn't follow through on.
A doubling up of the "What's Cook'n" series...vanilla sugar and homemade pesto. Not together, cause...y'know, that would be gross. I think the Neo-Citran is kicking in, so I will attempt to get this post done before it all goes sideways and I start talking gibberish.

First up - Vanilla Sugar. So easy to make, and although Shep insists his sugar is now "dirty", I think it looks pretty. 

You will need one or two vanilla bean pods. You can find them in most grocery stores or health food stores. 

With a sharp knife split the pod in half and open. With the point of the knife scrape the soft insides out (it will kind of look like chunks of tar, or dirt).

Add these chunks to the sugar and you can dump the whole mix into a food processor (which is much easier) and pulse to break up the vanilla. Or, if you are me (the dummy who can't find all the pieces to her food processor), you can break up the vanilla chunks with the edge of a wooden spoon, mixing constantly. More time consuming, but it works too.

The end result should look like sugar with flecks of dark brown mixed in.

Put the whole mess in a container, I like the big shaker option...

Perfect for adding a little sparkle to pancakes. 

Next up - homemade pesto...

We used our own home grown basil for this session. You can get big bunches of basil in your local grocery store, or if you were clever, from the potted basil you remembered to bring in before the first frost. Always wash the basil thoroughly, especially store bought (it is quite often covered in a fine sand). No one wants that peanut butter sandwich at the beach feeling when eating a plate of your pasta. 

You will also need garlic. I use about two heads per batch, great for flu season (well, except this one). Peel the skin off and set aside to throw in as you go.

Toss a few handfuls of basil, some garlic cloves, a few glugs of olive oil, some salt and pepper into a food processor or blender, and start  blending. I do not use a specific recipe for this, I just taste as I go along. Go easy on the salt, you can always add more later, but taking it back out - not so much. Most recipes call for pine nuts, I use walnuts. Walnuts are much less expensive and have all sorts of great health benefits. They also give the pesto a hardier texture. 
I blend in small batches, adding more basil, garlic etc as I go.

Then I dump it all in a large bowl and hand blend. I add shredded Romano cheese to taste, more salt and pepper if needed.

I then separated the pesto in portion sizes using small Ziploc bags.

Within ten minutes the bags all split along the sides and we had pesto everywhere. To make matters worse Paul had predicted this would happen and that we should use ice cube trays. Not wanting to dirty my ice cube trays, and thinking I was much more clever, I disagreed.

After much clean up and cussing I divided the remaining pesto into said ice cube trays...and whaddya know, it worked! Nice, neat portion sized homemade pesto. Just pop a few into a pan and SHAZAM...dinner is served.

I just said shazam, obviously time for bed. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hope in one hand...

If you want to make the Universe chuckle, make a plan. I believe that is a line from last years birthday blog post I did for the kids. Being born on December 8th puts them at the start of the Holiday season and smack dab in the middle of flu season. This year I thought I would outsmart the Universe and throw a big Halloween party for them instead. A dress up costume party with spooky treats and a pumpkin pinata. I wanted to invite their whole class, plus extras - which is way too many for our little house, so I booked the Orono Town Hall. It is lovely and super affordable - and way more endurable than my place. I happily sent out the invites and started on the decorations and costumes.
What I did not take into account is that this is Georgia and Sheps first year of school. Which means apparently the flu can happen anytime, anywhere. Georgie woke up sick the Monday before, and was ill for a few days, Shep seemed fine. Figuring it was just a matter of time I started DIYing as fast as my glue gun would work. I started making a floor plan just in case (no - don't even say it!) I woke up sick on the 30th. I would have to hand over the whole sparkly mess to Paul with some schematics scribbled on a napkin and hope for the best.
We woke up Sunday morning all of us feeling like champs. I imagine I owe some sort of penance to someone, but I've got a tab going so it all works out.
I had a lot of help getting the place together, people brought snacks, my sister brought 145 meatball sliders, Michelle from Triple Sweet brought 50 spooky cupcakes - I was covered. The party was a hit, and everyone had a great time. Well, it started to go sideways at the end, but by then the sugar had all kicked in and it was every man for himself. 

Off to nurse my chocolate hangover. Until next year Happy Halloween xo