Category Archives: Soapbox

When it rains……I cook

When it rains it pours, a nice euphemism but right now, when it rains it becomes a hurricane very quickly.

  I won’t air all our dirty laundry on my blog but suffice it to say I am a little pissed off right now. I ranted and raved yesterday and today I needed to do something. It was actually raining out (pouring for real, all day) so a run, a nice long walk with Molly, a trip to window shop, all out. Next best thing, make something delicious. I decided to try my hand at easy vegan date squares, using medjool dates…. yum…  I was on hold with a customer service department, so I stuck the phone on speaker, and got to work. I personally love graham, so I decided to take a shortcut and make my bottom layer from graham crackers, This I am now convinced was brilliant. not only did it save time, it adds a whole new dimension to what is usually essentially a date sandwich.

  For the filling I pitted and chopped 3 cups of medjool dates (about 2 cups when chopped and pitted) with some vanilla for some warmth. I want to try with other extracts, as I have had them made with orange juice concentrate and with almond and have been delightful, if you try please share how it worked!

  I topped it with a pretty classic crumble but with a little extra fiber in the form of wheat bran. I find working with my hands relaxing so I made the crumble with my hands which is a bit messy but so much fun. Molly, who very wisely stationed herself at my feet got to discover the joy that is brown sugar!

Just a heads up though, these fiber rich date squares could also be called date with the bathroom tomorrow squares if you eat too many so be sure to wash it down with a big class of your favorite milk (I vote any vanilla flavoured milk), or in my case a rose apple cider.

  The best part: I accidentally doubled the amount of brown sugar so had to make a double recipe of the crumble which meant I got to put an extra thick layer then mix the rest with some other ingredients for a bonus granola.

Stress-Relief Date Squares
Prep time: 15min        Bake time: 30min
    Serves 8

Ingredients:
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or white is fine)
2 tbsp wheat bran1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan butter, softened
2 cups pitted chopped dates (about 3 cups whole medjool dates)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla, almond or other extract
8-10 graham crackers

In an 8in square pan (or larger if you want thinner squares, mine were made in a 9in square pan) lay graham crackers to cover bottom (break as needed)

In a bowl combine oats, flour, wheat bran, brown sugar and salt. add the softened butter and combine well using a fork or your hands. set aside

In another bowl combine dates, water and vanilla, with a fork or your hands spread the mixture across the graham crackers with a spatula or again your hands. if working with your hands I recommend you moisten them with warm water before handling the dates, will help keep it from sticking to your skin and stay in the pan where you want it. its a useful trick for the spatula too.

The oat mixture can now be put on top of the dates, put about half of it in and press it down firmly, then do a second layer giving it all just a light tap to set together but remain crumbly. (unless you want to be able to eat these on the go in which case, push it all in firmly.)

in a 350 degree pre-heated oven bake for 30 min (20min if using a 9in pan), allow to cool in pan before cutting, cuts best when cold, so I allow it to cool completely in pan, score it  then put in fridge for about an hour before cutting to serve.

Bonus Granola
follow oat mixture instructions above. add the following:

1 tbsp PB2 (or natural peanut butter)
1/4 cup mixed dried fruits (or favourite dried fruits)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp chopped roasted cashews
1 tbsp chopped almonds
1-2 tbsp honey or corn syrup

toss together all the dry ingredients before adding any wet ones. add the wet, and with wet hands mix it well but not completely (leaving clumps and loose pieces) if it doesn’t clump well add more honey/syrup spread on a lined baking tray and bake at 300 for about 40 min until toasted, stirring once or twice.

if you prefer a less sweet granola, use only 1 tbsp of syrup but add another tbsp of vegan butter.

A noisy meditation 

  What I wouldn’t give for a few moments to breathe. A minute even 30 seconds where there are no sirens, no trucks, no pitter patter, no fans or air conditioners, no squirrel squacks or the call of seagulls (who brought seagulls into my hood? Oh yeah that great big medical installation in my backyard.) just silent meditation retreat caliber silence. But living on a main thoroughfare in a major city means this is just not an option. So I need to take a new look at these noises, this constant stimulus and find my own peace. Be aware and acknowledge the sounds without judging them without letting them cause suffering. This however is easier to say than to do. It’s easy to ignore sounds to tune them out. But that usually leads to tuning everything out. So tonight I am enjoying the silent sounds of my oatmeal. I recognize the kids talking rather than sleeping. I hear the buses, I hear the traffic and the fan but I am attending to the sound of the spoon against the bowl, the oat bran mixing with my saliva and the squishy pop of the juicy raisins. It may be a strange comfort food but a bowl of hot cereal with raisins late at night is a symbol of relaxation for me. I like a certain texture in hot cereal and prefer oatbran or cream of wheat to actual oatmeal. here is my recipe for a good sized bowl of oatbran

Cinnamon Raisin Oatbran

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oatbran
  • 1 cup milk of choice (plain or vanilla)
  • 1 cup (more as needed) water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of brown sugar

Method:

Mix all ingredients into a small pot and turn heat to medium. Stir occasionally until it starts to bubble then stir consistently until desired consistency. I promise you, in our instant oatmeal world, the effort required to make this is beyond worth it. My daughter also adores this as a breakfast or before bed snack. Takes about 10 min total about 4 once boiling. 

 Same recipe works with regular 3-minute oats too. With steel cut oats you need a lot more time. Cream of wheat use 4tbsp  and up milk/water a bit. 

  

Stopping to smell the roses

Train of thought prose. I particularly enjoy this style of writing and I hope you enjoy reading it.

In the journey of parenting, sometimes we are so busy rushing on to the next milestone, the next hurdle, the next TANTRUM that we forget to savour those sweet moments of nothingness or wonderful moments of cheerfulness.

I am still actively dealing with the health issues that took me of work this summer and being tired, easily run down, dealing with discomfort and the stress of not knowing why exactly I developed this makes parenting challenging to say the least. I have had the luxury this week of seeing the light in the eyes of my children more than once. The pleasure in the little things like pouches of freeze-dried apples, access to mummy’s watercolour pencils and expensive paper, The joy in their eyes in having received something made just for them by their Mummy.olaf

 

I painted them this Olaf, (sorry the picture is a little blurry)  and I am working on a TARDIS which my son has decided is for him. I am not a particularly talented painter but I enjoy creating and especially creating for others. When they were 2 I painted them a Kermit which they love. TARDIS in progress

Those roses….. This week I have stopped, I have stopped to take notice of the beautiful smiles on my children’s faces, of the joy they have in spending time with me (a precious commodity). I have stopped to take a moment to care for myself, my health. I have stopped to see just how much my loved ones care about me and my gentle and caring children.

mindfulbasil

Next week I plan to stop even more, to spend more moments simply aware of my surroundings. More showers where all I think about is exactly what I am doing in that moment. More meals without the background noise of the rest of my day. I might not succeed, and as with the theme of most of the rest of my posts on here, that is OK

And in the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt :

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

This works in the past tense too, and is something that another wise person has reminded me of frequently and I struggle to accept in many spheres of my life, because of course, regret is easy. The moment is more difficult but when we learn to appreciate the moment, the rest gets easier too.

The world today is suffering

Yesterday (October 22nd, 2014)  was a sad day, it was pretty intense too lots of things happened in my life, my country and the big world around me.

Our day started out innocently enough, a late morning because we were going to the pediatricians for their 4 year old check up, we got snacks at the ‘banana store’  (their name for  a local health food store). My son chose a pear and my daughter chose dried mangos.  I would have gotten them anything and both chose fruit. Maybe they knew pediatricians care what you eat. We walked there and back and generally had a nice morning. Everyone is healthy and I have the new Epi-Pen so feel less like a delinquent mom with an expired one! I loaded everyone into the car to head to their dads and on way I notice the tone on the radio had shifted, I realize they are talking about soldiers, and a shooter, and parliament. I listened intently then did what any self respecting member of my generation does, checked facebook and twitter as soon as I got to my destination. I had a hard time believing that so close to home something like this had happened. Somewhere where many people I know live. Somewhere I can drive to in a morning on whim. This was not OK. I had a lunch after this where the news was slowly spreading, speculations and wild stories abounded all day. After contacting friends and loved ones and being reassured they were all fine I had to get back to my day.  I am taking a break from the news until tomorrow. Later facebook brought my attention to this, more tradegy, much farther from home. But as a mother….. or a human….. just wow. These are just the stories that dominated my media experience today. Imagine what else has transpired.

My heart goes out to the families of todays and everydays victims of irrational violence.

The world today is suffering.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-5/

Shades of Grey (no not that kind)

First get your mind off the trilogy.

We all tend to gravitate to a way of thinking and being. I struggle however to define myself, in the past or the present. But I know that I tend to value the finer colours on the spectrum between black and white thinking but that in the darker moments of my life I run to the extremes and find comfort there. Being “nearly” vegan is for me is about being comfortable in the grey. I get thrown off by the fundamentalist vegans proselytising their way of life, as if it is the only valid one. Unfortunately right now with the state of animal welfare and factory farms its hard to see a world where the omnivore can also be making choices that do right by the animals we have been granted to help sustain us. That said, I do have a good idea of what I value, of the verb or descriptor I would most like to guide my life, and that is Continue reading Shades of Grey (no not that kind)

Wibbly Wobbly Life

image credit: from linkedin post.
image credit: from linkedin post.

Change loss and inspiration from the blogs around us.

Life hands us a lot of opportunity to deal with change. in many forms. In welcoming new into our lives as well as saying goodbyes. Sometimes at the same time, sometime the same event is both, regardless we enduring a lot of it. The birth of a child and becoming a parent, the loss of our own parents,  new jobs, lost jobs, health conditions, marriage, divorce, a new pet, a new iPhone 6 or blackberry passport. Our lives fail to follow a linear path but rather amble along and sometimes in loops. we stumble at times. sometimes we fall flat on our face, but life is not the destination, it is the journey.

This Mommy blogger put the experience of becoming a parent so eloquently and succinctly. The message I left with is one I try to apply widely to my life: it is hard, it is work, but it isn’t hard and it isn’t work, it is what it is and that is OK. When I think of change, I often associate it with loss, even positive changes feel like they come at a price. It is hard finding the balance between these two at times.

This year as I have mentioned I experienced a loss, a major loss, the breakup of a future marriage. 4 years ago I experienced another major life change, the birth of twins.  In the in-between I have lost 2 grandparents, have seen my own health suffer, have gained new skills, promotions at work and moved, just to name a few. Lots of change! Add to that, the simple truth that having children means living constant change.

When thinking about the post on parenting and my interpretation of change as loss, I thought of the post I read recently on the crossroads which brought the concept of loss and the emotions we go through home for me this week. Religiously, it s a time of renewal (rosh hashanna) and repentance (yom kippur). It is also the hebrew calendar anniversary of his proposal. Loss, I am feeling it. It is making this a very difficult holiday because I want to be happy.  But maybe, like other things in life, it is what it is and that’s ok. for now.

 

In the meantime, in honour of the change of fall, check out this fall themed meal we had for dinner!

 

pumpkin dinner

The recipe for the salads

The others coming soon!