It's that wonderful time of year when the air is fresh and crisp, the leaves are crunchy, and squashes take over the produce section in the grocery store. On a chilly day, a pot soup simmering on the stove while the temperatures dip is the absolute definition of cozy. What could be better than peeling off your gloves and warming your hands and soul with a thick, rich squash soup?
It was the end of September when the first one arrived in my inbox, and to be frank, I was surprised it took so long. Usually the first Student Safety/ Appropriate Parking Spaces/ Reminder to Drivers from the school arrives around Pumpkin Spice Latte time, and we all know that happens at the first sign of crisp air.
I'm a huge fan of roasted squash: I love it cubed and roasted until crisp on the outside. It's great eaten hot out of the oven, or cooled with salad. My very favourite is butternut squash; I had it in my mind to make a nice kale salad topped with butternut squash and chickpeas, but when I got to the grocery store they were ALL OUT OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH.
If you search this blog for the word "chickpeas" you will get a lot of results. It's no secret how much I love chickpeas; I'm always experimenting with them and writing about them and making big heart eye emojis at them. They're so versatile, inexpensive, and easy to store - not to mention that they are high in fibre, protein, and iron. Plus, they're shaped like little butts. What could be better?
When I was nine, my friend Melissa and I watchedNadia, a made-for-television movie about the Romanian gymnastic prodigy, Nadia Comaneci. We would watch it over and over on her VCR, laboriously rewinding our favourite parts, and then we would run to her backyard and play at being Nadia in the 1976 Olympics. Melissa was an actual gymnast, whereas I could only really turn a somersault, but no matter.
Well, here we go - jumping with both feet into September. In my house, we are juggling two different schools with two very different start and end times, intenstified karate practices for both boys, requests for school volunteers, and the usual increased work load that September tends to bring. Oh, and did I mention I'm in the thick of yoga teacher training? I am.
It is a busy, busy season, but I'd much rather be busy than bored, wouldn't you? Fortunately for me, there's no chance of that happening.
I remember it clearly, from my junior high home economics days: Miss H, with her Dorithy Hamill haircut, her home-sewn brown smock dress, and her sensible shoes was teaching us the basics of baking. Pie pastry, she said,is very tricky and you need to be an experienced baker to make it.
I have two tween boys, and the sheer volume of food that they can put away really makes me fear for the teen years. What is going to happen when they hit their real growth spurt? We go through snacks like nobody's business around here, and because of my reluctance to purchase many packaged items, I am always baking something for them to nosh on. Lately I've been focused on making snacks that are high in protein, so the boys are satisfied for more than twenty minutes at a time and so I can go for more than one day between baking marathons.
Where I live, it has been a rainy, cold summer. I have been inundated with photos of friends in other parts of the country, in pools and waterparks, trying to keep cool during these past few hot months. I will admit to feeling pangs of jealousy, as I turn on the oven to make pizza, not being concerned if the house temperature goes up a few degrees, because I am wearing fuzzy slippers and a long-sleeved shirt.
I know how it is; I really do. Summer can be packed with activities; maybe the kids are at camp while you're frantically trying to get your work done in time to pick them up, maybe you spent the day at the splash pad with a preschooler and a toddler and now feel like you're on the verge of collapse, maybe you took the tweens to the amusement park and you feel like you lost your mind in the process. It's hot, you're sweaty, and the last thing you feel like doing is making dinner.
Every once in a while, a new plant-based product comes around that piques my interest. Normally, I'm fairly immune to the charms of packaged foods proclaiming that they are vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, high in fibre, high in protein, high in iron, chock-full of Vitamin C, Omega-3-enriched, and/ or filled with magical unicorn dust and granulated rainbows. But every now and then, something catches my eye and I feel the need to try it.
The other day I was at the grocery store, and I noticed this product:
This recipe was born from two very different dining experiences, in two very different places.
Last year my husband and I were in Las Vegas, celebrating a friend's 50th birthday with three other couples. The guys were out doing manly things (car racing) while us ladies hung out by the pool. We ventured inside to grab some lunch and I had the most incredible arugula and quinoa salad, with slices of sundried tomatoes. I thought about that salad incessantly for months after and tried to recreate the dressing, without huge success.
If there's one thing I've learned in life, it is that people have strong feelings about potato salad. Here's the thing: I have never liked potato salad. I do not like boiled potatoes, and COLD boiled potatoes are even worse. It doesn't matter what kind of dressing is used or what else is in the salad, I have a very strong aversion to it. This has caused much angst for the people in my life who do like potato salad, and who want to convert me.
Several years ago, an intoxicated man snuck into the Calgary Zoo after hours and climbed into the Siberian tiger enclosure. The man scaled a 15 foot fence, complete with barbed wire, and then jumped over the second safety fence so that he was directly next to the tiger enclosure. The startled tiger snagged the man's arm with his claw, which resulted in a loss of that arm.
A few weeks ago I was in my favourite local grocery store, and I noticed they had a number of items on sale in the "Baking Needs" aisle. I am a person who loves to bake and who also likes a good sale - I may or may not save my grocery receipts just to show my husband and/ or mother just how much I received in promotional discounts on any given day. What can I say, I like praise.
You know those moms who look totally put together at school drop-off? The ones who are wearing coordinated, stylish outfits, with blow-dried hair and lip gloss? The ones wearing wedge heels at the playground; I repeat, heels at the playground, for the love of god?
Don’t you hate those women? I mean, how much time do they have on their hands anyway? Who has time to doll themselves up like that for school drop-off? Can they hear their children crying for them over the sound of the blow dryer?
I have a confession to make: I am one of those moms.