Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Handmade Holiday Roundup

I was thinking, as December approached that this year I'd like to try and make some gifts.  I'm not the craftiest girl in the world, but I like to give it a shot this time of year.  Handmade gifts are so much more meaningful.  And affordable.  And now that Len can help me, they'll be more fun!

So, without further ado, five handmade gift ideas that I've actually tried and executed over the last few years.  If I can do it, you can do it.

If you've got any great ideas for easy but lovely handmade gifts for those of us that are only mildly crafty, let me know.  

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween has taken on a whole new meaning now that Lenny is in school.  On our way to school Friday morning, she kept pointing at all the kids walking down the street in their costumes.  "Mom! A Witch!!! A Ninja! Mom!!!" and then, simply, "This is the BEST."

I let her take the lead this year and decide on her own costumes, except the first one, which was a surprise from our friend Emily who found it online.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Buddy the T Rex from the ever popular Dinosaur Train.  We have spent countless hours watching the show and even more playing make believe with the characters.  She was beyond thrilled to be her favourite dinosaur first thing on Halloween morning.  She tells me she stomped her way through the costume parade at school, just a like a real T Rex would.

When she got home from lunch she was ready for a change (Buddy's head was starting to get itchy and hot) so we improvised this beauty.  Meet the "Lady Bug Pirate".  I wish you could hear her squeak "aaaarrrrr matey" in her little Lady Bug voice.  Sweeter than all the fun-sized chocolate bars in all the land.

After school it was time to do some pumpkin carving.

Hey! Look! It's the World's Ugliest Pumpkin!

Happily, even ugly pumpkins produce beautifully delicious seeds to roast with olive oil and sea salt.

After a quick dinner it was time for the main event.  Trick or Treating.  For the past year Lenny has been planning her costume.  And while it may look thrown together in these pictures we spent lots of time planning it out and it is exactly what she wanted.

Hang on to your hats!
It's...NO NOGGIN!!!

She was so happy, you guys.  I think her favourite part of the day was handing out treats, which is, again, adorable.  The best thing was when a couple of her classmates came to our door.  The best.  They're all so cute I can hardly stand it.

The next morning, still buzzed from a great Halloween she asked us "when's Christmas?" Yeah, she's ready.

Recipe: Jamie Oliver's Epic Roast Chicken Salad

This is one of those recipes you come across and immediately think "I MUST COOK THAT!"  Jamie never fails, you guys.  We know that.  And while this was a little more work than I thought it would be it was definitely worth it.  The leftovers were killer too, which was a huge surprise.

What you'll need:

  • olive oil
    1 x 1.2 kg chicken
    sea salt
    freshly ground pepper
    a small bunch of fresh thyme
    1 lemon
    400 g mixed cherry tomatoes
    1 bulb of garlic
    1 country loaf (roughly 300g)
    6 slices smoked streaky bacon
    200 g green beans, topped
    extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
    cider vinegar
    a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
    a bunch of fresh mint
    6 green onions


Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Drizzle olive oil all over the chicken and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Pick and scatter over the thyme leaves (reserving the stalks). Rub the flavours into the skin, then halve the lemon and put it inside the cavity along with the thyme stalks. Pop the chicken into a large roasting tray (roughly 25 x 32cm) and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes, then smash up your garlic bulb and discard the papery white skin. After about 30 minutes, throw the tomatoes and garlic into the chicken tray, ideally holding the chicken up with tongs while you slush everything around and coat the tomatoes in the juices underneath. Put the chicken back on top, then return it to the oven for the remaining 30 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and the juices from the thigh run clear when pricked with a knife.

Transfer the roasted chicken to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave to cool. Tear the bread into the roasting tray in thumb-sized croutons, then toss them in all the cooking juices. Spread the croutons out in the tray and lay the rashers of bacon on top. Pop back in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes, or until everything is crispy, golden and gorgeous.

These tomatoes were from our garden.  I can hardly believe it.  They were delicious.  What a sense of accomplishment I had cooking and eating something I grew.  Who knew!

Meanwhile, remove all the chicken skin and set aside, then use two forks to strip every last bit of meat off the bone. Pile the meat into a large bowl and drizzle over any resting juices from the plate. Cook your green beans in boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until cooked but not squeaky when you bite them. Quickly drain and add them to the bowl of shredded meat, with 5 to 6 tablespoons of good-quality extra virgin olive oil, the wholegrain mustard and a few good swigs of cider vinegar. Chop up the parsley and mint leaves and finely slice the spring onions. Add them to the bowl. Toss everything together, then have a taste and adjust with more vinegar or seasoning if you like.
Once the croutons are golden, quickly tear the chicken skin into the roasting tray (skip this if you want a healthier salad, I did) and put back into the oven just until it crisps up again. When it's looking lovely, tip everything from the bowl into the tray or on to a large serving platter. Toss everything together and serve in the middle of the table.

Does it sort of look like a dog's breakfast?  YEP.  But it tastes AMAZING!