Experiments In Domesticity

Marriage, Motherhood & Modern Housewifery


Stir It Up

It’s been far too long since I last posted. What happened to my New Year’s resolve? It seems both time and motivation have vanished in the ether. I could make many excuses: I’ve bought and sold a house, I’ve partially packed a house, I have a very active toddler, Musicman has been away, etcetera, etcetera. As we all know, sometimes life gets in the way.

Way back in February, I celebrated my 38th birthday while Musicman was away. Because he had not thought to leave a gift at home for me, he went all out in March and bought me a Thermomix. (Okay, I’ll admit it, he may have had to listen to me talk about it for a year first …)

For the uninitiated, the Thermomix is a kitchen robot that can basically do everything except spoon the food into your gaping mouth. It is made by the Vorwerk company – designed in Germany and produced in France. It grinds, grates, blends, mixes, kneads, steams, sautés, weighs and cooks. You can even get it to clean itself by putting a drop of soap and some water in it.

Adapting and trying out new recipes has taken up some time but the learning curve is not too steep and my family has been enjoying the results tremendously. The things I like most about the Thermomix are its speed and efficiency. I have found that there is a lot less waste involved because I am less reliant on pre-packaged foods, and I am able to throw unpeeled vegetables in and the end product is still lovely. I am also able to whip up a decent meal in half an hour – from scratch.

I use the Thermomix at least once a day and find it especially wonderful for smoothies, steel cut oats, blended soups, hummus, guacamole, dips and rice. It would have been handy to have had when Ladybug was starting to eat solids. It is great for gardeners who are interested in preserves and canning. It is also an excellent tool for those delving into raw and vegan cooking.

Please note: I am certainly not being paid by Thermomix. I wish I were because the machine does not come cheap. I just drank the Kool-Aid and wanted to share my delight with others.

Vegan Potato Rösti with Applesauce from Rescued Fruit

Vegan Potato Rösti with Applesauce from Rescued Fruit

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Snow Day

It was warm enough today to spend more than 15 minutes outside. Ladybug, Musicman and I built a fire and got some things done in the yard. One of those things was building Ladybug’s first snowman. She spent a good deal of time conversing with him while I did some shovelling.

I shovelled the across-the-street neighbours’ walkway and, when I was done, they asked us to come in. Their house is a mirror image of our 1953 built 690 square foot bungalow, save the 150 square foot addition on the back. They were proud to inform us that they had raised five children there, and that with only one bathroom. I was immediately reminded of how our realtor suggested that our three bedroom house would not suit many people because it was too small for anyone other than a couple or single person. How times have changed!

I recently read Disease Proof Your Child, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and have been feeling somewhat guilty for turning my back on nutritionally sound eating in favour of ripple chips and beer. It happens every year during the winter doldrums: I ditch fresh fruit and vegetables and cling to sinfully starchy carbs. Not that I’ve started Ladybug on beer just yet …

In an effort to make something that would satisfy one and all, I went to the cold room and pulled out some of our lovely Alberta Blush garden potatoes to make twice baked potatoes. Normally, this is a dairy-heavy recipe with butter, cheese, milk, and sour cream, but I modified it so that I could eat it and feed it to Ladybug:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 small onion
8-10 medium sized potatoes
Salt and pepper
Non-dairy milk ( I use almond)

1. Put cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak for 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Drain cashews and place in blender or food processor with garlic and half the water. Turn on and add rest of water, as needed, until you have a thick but smooth cashew cream. Salt & pepper to taste. Place in fridge.
4. Prick potatoes with a fork and put in oven for 40-50 minutes. They should be cooked through but not too soft.
5. Let potatoes cool while you chop up the onions and olives. (This step can be altered to accommodate whatever you’d like in your potato: garlic, cheese, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, etc.)
6. Cut each potato in half and use a spoon to scoop out most of the flesh. Be careful: they will still be hot. Make sure you leave about a quarter inch next to the skin, so that your boats don’t fall apart. Place the cashew cream, potato, onions, and olives in a bowl.
7. Using a ricer or hand mixer, blend the potato mixture, adding a bit of non-dairy milk at a time. Salt & pepper to taste.
8. Using a spoon, fill each hollowed out potato boat a little over the top with the mixture, and place on a baking sheet.
9. Pop the sheet back in the oven for 20-30 minutes until just beginning to brown.


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The Night Before Christmas

When I first moved to Edmonton, almost four years ago now, I had one pre-existing “friend”, I worked with a group of largely unhappy people, and my Musicman was touring a lot. I thought about leaving every single day.

As I looked around the room during Ladybug’s birthday party last weekend, I was struck by what a wonderful group of people I now know. Having a child has increased my friend wealth; parents of young children seem to gravitate to one another. Giving birth at the Lucina Centre was a life changer in many ways, not the least of which was the amazing group of women I got to know who were giving birth in December 2011. I’ve made some good friends and found a great support network.

A side benefit of friends at this time of year is the unexpected swag that falls into your hands. I have been reaping the friendship rewards in the form of a delicious bottle of vegan Irish Cream. My dear friend, who also happens to be a culinary whiz, whipped this baby up using the recipe from Oh She Glows (found here). She states that she added a “little extra whiskey, vanilla and some love.”

I am thankful for my friends (and Edmonton isn’t so bad after all).


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The Party’s Over

Ladybug’s first birthday celebration yesterday went well. Better than expected, actually. Everyone behaved themselves, there were no tantrums, and most of the guests left at the appointed time (of paramount importance for a child’s birthday party). In total, we had 29 guests in our less than 700 square foot house.

The food was almost all things Ladybug particularly enjoys. Everything was reportedly delicious (I had no time to eat), but the biggest complements seemed to go to the Cheater Baked Beans. For the most part, I followed the recipe from the Veganomicon. I deviated from it for buffet-ease by placing canned navy beans, strained tomatoes, and molasses directly into a crockpot. I fried the onions and garlic on the stove in olive oil and then added mustard powder, and salt and pepper to the pan. Once the pan was well mixed, I dumped it into the crockpot, added a quarter cup of maple syrup, and mixed the whole shebang thoroughly. I set the crockpot on high because there were only four hours ’til party o’clock.

The sugar cookies Ladybug and I made seemed to be a hit with the kids, as was the “fruitcake.” (I don’t think my girl needs any extra sugar because she is already so very sweet.). The adults enjoyed the Linzertortes the most (the recipe can be found in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar).

Now, the Christmas countdown truly begins!

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Pre-Christmas Blues

Ladybug and I have been sick for the last couple of days. This means a few things: not sleeping well, not leaving the house, and clinging. Yesterday I tried everything in my power to fight the clinginess. I used my bright, cheerful voice, sang along to the radio, pointed out various exciting toys, read stories, and served delicious snacks. By the end of the day I was exhausted and frustrated, and my little lady was more clingy than ever. I had forgotten the (possibly) most important parenting lesson of all: go with the flow, especially when dealing with a non-verbal, teething toddler. This dawned on me last night as I watched my sad baby fling her little body against the hardwood in a final, passionate plea for me to hold her. Again.

I was determined that today should be different. Upon waking, I got the Ergo carrier ready for the hip holding position. With the first whine of the day, I popped Ladybug in. We were able to make 2 dozen sugar cookies with virtually no complaint. I will say that rolling out dough was a little slower but I am pleased with the results nonetheless.

Last month, I decided to ramp up my holiday stress a couple of notches by hosting a one year old birthday party for Ladybug on December 22. Hence, my push to bake and clean and ignore my daughter’s protests.

Fortunately, a friend who is a dedicated vegan let me in on her amazing cookies secret: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I have yet to fail with the help of this book. I have even made celiac-friendly vegan cookies using the sage advice offered by the authors (who also have an excellent website full of delicious recipes here). The cookies I made today featured the Red Fife flour I bought from Gold Forest Grains last month. This flour is truly delicious and worth every penny. It has a slightly cinnamony flavour that really enhances baking.

When the baking was done, I was able to do some tidying and make some tea. As I sat in the living room with my baby latched to my breast, I looked around and thought things didn’t look so bad after all. We were able to continue the day with few tears and a great deal of connectedness.

If I can manage to go with the flow when it comes to holiday stress, I think I might just make it to 2013.


A little 12/12/12 humour