Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tonight's dinner is brought to you by butter.

Generally as a rule I don't cook or bake with butter.  Not sure why exactly. I know it is an institution of sorts, but I never have.

Perhaps it all boils down to how you grew up and what you got a taste for.  My mum used to use those square of imperial margarine ( I have never really noticed before, but doesn't the spelling of this look weird?  Shouldn't it be margerine?).

Over Christmas, I was attempting to do some last minute baking.  I polled my friends on Facebook for fast easy recipes.  They delivered, giving me tons of ideas.   Shortbread made with butter was on the list, so I went out and bought some butter.  However, one of the posts was from a friend who has an at home baking business.  She makes and sells dainties.  Sold.

So that brings us to this past weekend, when I realized I had this block (is that how you refer to it?) of butter still sitting in my freezer.  I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook that I got at my bridal shower.  At the time, it seemed like an ok gift, but you know what?  Given all of the things I got for my bridal shower, the things that I still have are an ironing board, pots and pans, a rubbermaid mop bucket, some ridiculously pretentious china fruit bowls that look like miniature Holy Grails and that recipe book.  It has very 1950s vibe to it in that it shows how to properly set a table and what bowls dishes should be served in.  I keep meaning to look for the chapter on what drink to have on ice when your husband comes home from work, but I just haven't had time.

With my butter in hand, I  decided to make oven baked fried chicken.  This time I was very careful to close the freezer after last weeks debacle.  I set the chicken out on the counter to thaw.  We generally buy our chicken in one of those bulk boxes rather than the fresh packs in the meat section.  I am starting to change my mind about that.  Fresh chicken (even if you freeze it) doesn't reduce into a poultry swamp when you defrost it.  The box chicken does.  God forbid you defrost it in the microwave as you will be covered in a tidal wave of gooey chicken run off when you take it out.  I think it must be because they pump up the chicken with water to make it look bigger and weigh more. One-Seeded Drupes!

** This is an inside joke between my friend Tara and I. A one seeded drupe is another way to say Coconut.  One day (and I have can't recall how this came up) we decided that a one-seeded drupe sounded like an Edwardian insult and fell in love with it.  Regardless of what you call it, it's pretty shady.

The oven friend chicken is pretty easy, melt some butter in a casserole dish, bread your chicken (add spices to the breading to taste) set in butter and bake.  If you are a culinary rock star and remember to flip the chicken half way through cooking, even better.

I also made a pear/apple crisp which the boys loved, but I must have skipped a step somewhere along the line (which is kind of remarkable since apple crisp is super easy to make). Instead of the top crumble coming out crispy and delicious, it was closer to oatmeal that had been left on the counter too long.  In my opinion not even a scoop of vanilla ice cream could save it, which goes to show my boys eat anything.  I am not a huge fan of apple crisp even when it's done well.  I think it's the boiled carrots of desserts.

You would have thought that given all of the above,  I would have gone through that brick of butter but no, I only used half!  So I suppose I will circle back to its original purpose and make some shortbread.  That is of course my oven cooperates.  I have a two door oven.  Instead of having a drawer for pots and pans, it has a small oven on top (for pizzas, casseroles etc) and a larger convection oven on the bottom for turkeys and bigger things.  We have found that the top oven get the most use.  It's a good thing really because it takes a lot less time to preheat.  Trouble is lately, it has taken to burning the bottom of things, but leaving the tops uncooked.  I tried to make baking powder biscuits for breakfast the other day.  When I took them out of the oven, the insides of the biscuits were raw dough, but the bottoms were black.  Mind you that's a pretty good metaphor for how I feel about mornings anyways, so maybe it's appropriate.

I have really started to notice that I am knocking it out of the park cooking wise recently.

Thankfully no one in my house has complained, so that's good.  Mental note to make less crunchy chicken curry rice dinners, dried oatmeal desserts and burnt dough breakfasts and turn out something more palatable.

Bon Appetite!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

oh for f**ks sake

Let's lead with the fact that I always mean well.

The other day I was making the boys breakfast.  I went into the pantry to grab some frozen waffles.  Fed the monsters and got us all out the door.

Came home to Brad making the face that he does when I've messed something up utterly.

Apparently in my haste to feed the monsters and get us all out the door, I left the freezer lid open. 


Thankfully, nothing melted which is kind of a miracle really.  Although, Brad keeps the house at a frosty 17C during the day which probably helped a little.

I vowed that I wouldn't let it happen again.

Ugh.  Why do I make promises I can't keep?

Do you ever find yourself immersed in projects that you didn't plan on doing?  When I came home from grocery shopping I got thoroughly annoyed at the disorganization of my freezer, so I took everything out and reorganized it.  It's a thing of beauty now.

It's an apartment size freezer, but we do have a full size freezer in the basement.  One of the things that I took out of the upstairs freezer was the insert to our ice cream maker.  You keep this thing frozen and when you're ready to make ice cream, you pop it in.  Quite handy.

But it's awkward and due to it's somewhat weird shape, it takes up a lot of space.  I thought it was a good idea to move it to the basement freezer.

I trotted downstairs and opened the freezer to find it almost full to the brim with venison sausage.  Not a bad thing.  I took a bunch of things out and reorganized so I could fit the ice cream maker thing in.

Happily came upstairs pleased as punch with my reorganization.

This morning, Brad went downstairs to grab some sausages for breakfast.  Shortly thereafter I heard 

"Uh... Jod?"

That's never good. Then without him saying anything, I realized what I had done.

In my hasty attempt at reorganizing, I took out a box of chicken, put it to the side and continued with my shuffling things about.  But I forgot to put it back in.

Now we had an entire box of thawed chicken to use up.


Alright fine. I am nothing if not resourceful.  Cue Casseroles.  I decided to make a butter chicken/rice thing and a cheese broccoli one.

I have made lasagna where you just make it with uncooked noodles, but make the sauce a little runny and it comes out fine.  I figured the same logic would work for rice.  I thinned out my butter chicken sauce with a little chicken stock, proud of myself for being so clever.

Ok. So apparently rice doesn't work the same as noodles.  Unless of course, you prefer your rice to be crunchy, in which case this recipe is for you.  I added in more chicken stock and put it back in the over.  That'll fix it right?

No.  The answer is no.

On a positive note, the chicken broccoli one turned out good.  In an attempt to salvage the casserole and not completely waste all that chicken, I have added even more broth and put it in the fridge.  My hope is that sitting in the broth overnight will help soften it up.  I'm cautiously optimistic.

Le Sigh.

Lazy or determined?

Last Saturday night Brad and I went out for an evening well mannered frivolity. 

Rather than takemy behemoth of a filing cabinet that I call a purse I decided to take my grandmother's leather clutch.

It's one of favourites. It has this gorgeous black embossed floral pattern,  that hasn't aged a bit.
The inside of the clutch shows its good years of service. It almost has a watercolor like pattern on it. I've always wondered about the tiny little pockets inside it. What could possibly fit in there?

A stamp? Bus ticket perhaps?

We got home from our dinner out and I put the clutch on the counter in the kitchen. I kept meaning to bring it upstairs. I would see it every day and in my head remind myself to put it away, but I always seemed to forget. 
Yesterday, I was determined to remember to bring it upstairs. I had just gone grocery shopping and had a myriad of things to put away. Some of those things require going upstairs like toothpaste and hairspray that kind of thing.

As I was put all the food away I moved the clutch, hairspray et al on the bottom of the stairs to remind myself to put them away the next time I went up.

Next time I went by I had a handful of towels in my hands. I managed to grab the hairspray and put it on top, but I couldn't manage to put the clutch on as well without dropping the towels.

I mentally reserved that I would come right back down and get it. I did not.

When I came downstairs, there were other things I had to attend to; helping Logan make his smoothie and making sure that he put the lid on the blender; keeping my ravenous older son from devouring all the groceries I just bought; and if I am being completely honest pouring myself a glass of wine.

The Epilepsy meds that I am on allow me to drink some wine. However more than a couple glasses makes me feel really sleepy. So somewhere north of midnight, I couldn't fight it anymore and went upstairs to go to bed.

Before going upstairs, I turned off all the lights in the house. By the time I got to the bottom of the staircase to go upstairs everything was dark. So I can give myself a pass for not seeing the clutch at the bottom of the stairs.

This morning I went downstairs to get some breakfast and coffee. As I went down, I saw the clutch laying there. I could almost feel its sense of abandonment.

I had breakfast and coffee and went directly to the clutch and marched it back up to my closet.

Which means that it took me less than a week to put this gorgeous clutch back in my closet. 

Better late than never.

Home sweet home.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Can see the light

Year end is almost over. Two weeks or so and it'll be done. DONE! 

This has been a pretty big learning curve. With Leslie retired I'm on my own. There are the things she trained me on, but you can't train for everything. There is always going to be those ad hoc requests that come up. I was expecting those, but not the sheer volume of them!

So while the hours I've been putting in have been off the charts, working until 9pm every night. I've learned a lot this month.

The one thing that is really made me realize how much I value my time with the boys. It's so easy to take for granted the time that you get to spend with your family and this last couple weeks of me putting in the hours I have really missed them.

This weekend we have hockey games, hockey practices and more hockey games.  I have wrote my last cheque for hockey this season.  So glad that's done. $350 here, $250 there every couple months in addition to registration costs of about $500 and any tournaments which are totally above and beyond what I just listed. Oh yeah...those are PER KID costs.

I am glad that they enjoy it, so in that respect it all worthwhile. It's been great for Logan to learn to respect coaches and consequences (being benched etc) for lipping off. Logan always likes to be the smart ass, with a clever response for everything.  I was a lot like him in school, as far as the attitude goes. He definitely has an easier time making friends though.  I had my head in a book my entire school life. But Nancy Drew and I were besties for sure. 

On the other hand, hockey has helped Zach's social skills. Zach is extremely shy and has a very hard time making friends. All attempts at school have been pretty awkward encounters. But with hockey, you are instantly part of a group. Since Zach is a big defensemen and scores goals, he has really become part of the team. He even made assistant captain this year.

As I'm typing this I realize I have probably written about the boys, their individual strengths and weaknesses many times before. It's hard not to though. Brad, Zach and Logan are my world. No one drives me crazier, no one make me laugh harder and I'm ridiculously lucky to have them.

Sigh. And with that (such a rebel for staring a sentence with "and", although I've seen it quite a bit now away and it makes me cringe every time) I am going to go have myself a big holiday pour of Australian Moscato.  

Cheers to the freakin weekend!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pure unadulterated honesty

IAt this moment, I have nothing to say.

I am writing this out of pure procrastination.  I do not want to clean my house.

It must be done of course because I am not one of the lucky ladies who has a cleaning service.  So while I type this, I am looking at some obnoxious crumbs glaring at me from my kitchen floor. Crumbly bastards.

The litany of things that I have clean is enough to make me want to walk around the house misting Mr. Clean and be done with it.  At least it would smell like I gave the house a good one over.

Then I have this image in my head of some perfect housewife who's house is always immaculate.  I have friends who tell me that the key to to keeping a perfect house is to make yourself a list of a few chores to do every day, so you never have to clean the whole house at once.  For example, Monday is bathrooms, Tuesday would be sweep/mop, Thursday vacuum.  You get the idea.  I do admire these women and am jealous at their clean houses. By the way, maybe call me about 2 hours before you come over. No reason....

But for those of us who work full time, when you get home and you're bagged after a long day, you don't freaking feel like going up to the chore chart and getting right to it.  Knowing me, that whole program would last one day and then I'd be bumping Tuesday to Wednesday, Wednesday to Thursday and before I knew it, I'd a have full top to bottom cleaning to do on Saturday anyways so what's the point?

I can imagine every 1950s woman reading the above paragraph and weeping for the state of households in 2016.   Whatever ladies.  We can be CEOs now, let's call it a wash.

Logan is at hockey practice right now and Zach is outside shooting pucks.  I have to get dinner going for him, because Brad is going to come home, drop off Logan and then take Zach to practice and I have to make sure Zach is fed.

I really should consider rewording that last sentence because it makes my children sound like gremlins.  Don't feel after midnight!  They eat so much now.  It's beyond anything I could have imagined.  $800 a month in groceries and we consistently run out of things.  I've resorted to buying protein shakes to supplement their regular meals to help fill them up.  Logan is about average height for his 10 years, but he is eating like he's 6 foot one.  The thing is though, with the amount of food they eat you would expect them to be gaining weight.  I suppose they are but they are also stretching out. Their pants are falling down at the waist, but are 3 inches too short in length.  Zach is now approach 5'6" at 12 years old.

In case you were wondering, the average height of a 12 year old boy around 5 foot.  People always smile and say, "he's a growing boy".  Gawd that sentence annoys me.  I mean thank you Captain Obvious, do you want to pay for my groceries? 

Plus, no one tells you that pre-teen boys are gross. Their clothes stink, there are tornadoes of filth.  You could have a perfectly clean kitchen and your 12 year old (or 10 year old for that matter) could go into your kitchen to make a snack and it would look as though someone served thanksgiving for a party of 8. Which reminds me...there is that obnoxious crumb again.

I better get back at it.

Billy Elliot

Debbie and I have season tickets to MTC.  It's always a good time.  Even when it's bad, you have
something to talk about afterword.

Friday night's play was Billy Elliot. Generally speaking I am not a fan of musicals.  Add to that I got Billy Elliot and Bobby Fischer.  Don't ask me how that happened.  It's the same reason I used to get Billy Joel and Elton John mixed up as a kid.  Maybe it's the name Billy that messes me up.

So I went into the play cautiously optimistic. I was curious how they could take a chess prodigy and turn it into a musical.

About 10 minutes in I realized that I got my protagonists mixed up.  Billy Elliot is about a kid destined to a be a ballet dancer growing up in a small English town that relies heaving on the coal mining industry. The town has fallen on hard times during the `84/85 mining strike.

I loved it.  There was a touch of drama, a touch of comedy, a touch of silliness and a heavy serving of talent.

The young boy who plays the lead has so much going for him.  He can dance, sing, and act.  Reading his bio, he spent 20 hours a week learning the dances for the show, how dedicated is that?  I always wonder how that happens.  Did the kid wake up one day and know he wanted to be in the arts?  Did he get exposed to it because he grew up in an artistic family?  It seems so unlikely that he would have accomplished so much (he's has an impressive repertoire of acting gigs across Canada and the US) by the age of 10 purely by chance.

The last couple of plays have been rather upbeat and quirky.  But the next one is going to take a hard left at quirky.  It's called Chimerica and is set the day after hundreds of students are massacred in Tiananmen square in 1989.  There was an iconic photo of a man confronting a tank.  20 years later the photographer who took the photo gets a tip that the individual from the photo may be alive.

So while it won't be a fluffy bunny play, it definitely sounds interesting.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Lots of things have been happening on the Preston side of the family lately.

Weddings and babies aplenty.

Brad and I jumped the gun when we got married and had kids over 10 years ago. My boys have been patiently waiting for some kids on the Preston side and they are coming fast!

Easton has taken the reigns as the youngest.  Easton Henry Koss was born on January 14.


I have a cute picture, but I can't figure out how to rotate it, so I'll update it with a new pic when I can.

Little Easton would not be rushed and finally made his appearance at 41 weeks. At 4lbs, he's a wee one.  Dana was released this week, but Easton has to stay behind until he gets his sugar levels up a bit.

So very exciting!
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