Friday, February 26, 2016

Parent teacher conferences

This has been an extraordinarily long week and it's not over yet. My husband was suppose to have surgery yesterday (he'll probably kill me for posting about this). The surgery is nothing major - in fact it is a relatively simple procedure that occurs on a regular basis. However, the implications of the procedure itself are wide open in terms - and frankly I'm not going to get into that part because that doesn't have me concerned. 

But the annoyance of this week is beyond belief.  So at the end of January he had his date confirmed for surgery as yesterday.  We found out at the last minute that in fact his surgery had been re-scheduled but no one could seem to explain to us why it was re-scheduled (we have since figured that out - it was a simple human error and that pisses me off beyond belief and it is very frustrating.  On the other hand I completely understand human error and I'm not actually pissed off or upset with the person who made the mistake.)

I'm annoyed, fightie and angry over the huge implications it has had.  So many things had to be planned and scheduled. Let's start with the husband - he does NOT like surgery at ALL like would rather have his teeth kicked in over and over again than have to deal with being put under - it really scares him and I completely understand that.  So he has been stressed out for nearly a week not sleeping and now we know we have to go through that stress all over again.  He had to get sick notes and notes from the specialist to be off work and then his work had to make arrangements. We were worried that they wouldn't be able to accommodate him coming back to work on short notice (thankfully they were able to accommodate him).

Now there is our joint life - the monkey was suppose to be with us this week so we had to make special arrangements to have her looked after, attend her activities and then make it home and trying not to disrupt her too much - of course all of that was for not.  

Then there is my life - he has to be driven, taken home, and not left unattended for 24-hours afterwords. So the dates that we were originally given I had a conflict at work - thankfully we were able to work the conflict out but not without a lot of inconvenience.  Now the new date we were originally given causes more huge conflicts and I'm not sure if I can fix those issues. 

Needless to say this week has been very stressful - which leads to tonight's stress (did I mention I am ready for a vacation). Parent-teacher conferences.  Now I was always a great student - not always the best marks in high school but I was still a pretty good student.  For some reason I always thought that the parents had it easy when it came to the PT Conferences - you were just there to find out how your child was progressing and frankly if they were behaving or not in school.

I've come to dread the parent-teacher conference - not because the monkey is a bad kid or does bad in school. Frankly she is a wonderful kid (and that's not just a proud mom speaking) but she works well with others, stands up for people but isn't a bully, tries really hard in school but still struggles a lot with her reading.

One of the things I have always struggled with is the balance being a mom/wife and myself frankly.  I had my daughter when I was in school and there was a lot of demands placed on my time and when trying to balance everything for a long time the things that "I" needed or wanted went by the way side and I became a very unhappy person and I didn't find a lot of support.  I then shifted and took a lot of focus on me and what I needed and frankly mostly needed to be and keep healthy but it created a real imbalance.

So I find it hard as a mom it is the most challenging thing that I have done or frankly will ever do (law school that was easy compared to being a mom - seriously). So now trying to balance between making sure that Monkey is in enough activities to make sure she is well rounded and has a lot of experiences, but not to many activities so that it takes away from her education, working with her on school and the other passions while not trying to be an overbearing parent (trust me I'm really strict - I'm the most strict with her out of all her care givers). But this week is a prime example of the struggle between the demands of life, being a mom, being a wife, being an employee, being a person.

With the surgery looming over us it was really hard to make sure that everything around the house was taken care of so that the husband wouldn't have to worry while he was off work, it was/is emotionally stressful waiting for him to go for surgery, it is difficult changing and entire routine for the week and in the midst of showering this morning thinking about parent teacher conferences - it dawned on me - reading.  The monkey has mandatory 20-minutes reading every day for school (not a lot of time and she really needs to work on her reading) but in the midst of the chaos this week it hadn't dawned on me until that moment that she hadn't done her reading. It was clearly and entirely my fault she hadn't done her reading. She was with us on Monday, with her Dad on Tuesday and then back with us Wednesday night but because of the cancelled surgery not as originally planned and I didn't know if she had done her reading.

I wanted to sit on the floor of the shower and cry - how was I going to explain that with everything going on I had simply forgot. How do you forget your child - they should be your largest priority and she is - but I forgot. I called her into sit on the bathroom floor and read while I finished my shower, then had her read as she had breakfast and then as I drover her to school but how do you forget. Add to that she didn't eat supper until after her activity on Wednesday night and then it was chocolate crepes at 9:00 pm almost as a bribe to say I'm sorry I'm such a fluck nut as a parent sometime.

The monkey as wonderful as she is - is an eternal optimist - always thankful and happy and gave me a big hug for being the best mom because I made chocolate crepes and all I can think is I'm not and I can't believe even after 10 years I don't know how to balance it. So yes - parent teacher conferences feel like a judgment session for how I am doing as a parent for putting my child and their education first.

Now before any trolls comment about maybe I should focus more on my daughter than the blog and the food I'm making - frankly speaking a lot of the time the food is made after she is gone to bed, or on days when she is with her father but the posts don't get done right away... It is one of the things I struggle with - balance - because I still haven't figured out how to fit in going to the gym. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Kitchen tips part 1

So this post is going to be about somethings that people ask me about in my kitchen adventures and some recommendations I have. 

The first area I want to focus on in preparation of sorts. This comes down to a couple of things: reading the recipes, miss en place, having a game plan. I know that I'm doing the 366 recipe challenge - but I have always loved to cook and tend to go all out for large occasions.  I have been known to do multiple courses for a kids birthday party. So my first part of the plan comes down to figuring out what I am going to make and then making copies of the recipes. Yup - that is right even when I have cook books - if I am making multiple dishes I will make or get out my copies of the recipe. I do this for several reasons. 

Recipes on the wall!
The first reason I do this is because the last time I didn't I had to flip back and forth between three different recipes in the same book. I also find it difficult to balance multiple cook books on the counter.  The second reason I tend to like to have all of the recipes up on the wall so that if someone is helping me with larger events they can also take a peak at the recipe easily while I may be working on something else.  Last reason comes down to scaling up or down a recipe.  If I have something that makes a different quantity than I need and I am making multiple dishes I will write down the new measurements for whatever I need on the recipe so I don't have to think about it when I'm working (I have forgotten to double something on occasion). 

I next read all of the recipes as best as I can (and I continue to learn the importance of this every day - oh panna cotta).  After I read the recipes I make a master list of ALL items needed and the quantities for something across all of the recipes (so let's say I don't run out of garlic because I need three cloves in everything I'm making). After that I narrow down what I actually need to buy. 

Following this - I pay attention to how long the recipes say I need to prepare or cook something. This becomes important in multi tasking. For example if I have to boil potatoes for 20 minutes - I can do that while cutting/chopping for something else and then something can be working away in the oven. Usually my big master lists are saved for Christmas - where I have a three day plan typed out and taped to the kitchen cabinets with time lines of when things need to be started, where they are being cooked, what they are being cooked and serving dish is being used. This is less of an issue now that I have my wonderful double ovens. However, it is still a good idea make sure you have everything ready to go.  One of the biggest tips I read in Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cook Book was not to have everything ready at once - so don't time to have the potatoes, turkey and gravy done at the same time. Certain things can sit and keep hot until ready to serve - other things need to be served right away. So I'm working on that aspect of planning - what can be done early and kept until the other things that have to be served right away are done. 

Once I'm ready to go I do put the recipes in page protectors and using painters tape - I put them up on the walls, cupboards...basically anything that doesn't move and where it's fairly easy to see. It helps to have them right there.  

Salt and Pepper
I have two more recent purchases that I want to share as I find them really useful.   The first is the "salt" containers (I am using them for Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper). They are bamboo and have tops that swivel open really easily.  It is nice to have them on the counter to be able to add salt and pepper to things as I am cooking. I got this set at Bed Bath and Beyond but haven't been able to find them anywhere else locally. 

Oxo Measuring Cups
The last thing I absolutely love are these OXO measuring "cups"( actually beakers). They are actually meant to measure smaller  amounts of liquids - there are four different sizes in the set - and measure in Teaspoon, Tablespoon, Ounces or Millilitres. The really nice thing is that I can measure these small amounts and have them ready to go and leave them on the counter - where with traditional measuring spoons - you have to measure and pour somewhere. They truly are a wonderful thing. (Find them here on

Monday, February 22, 2016


I have had Empanadas once before at a local restaurant but other than that I had no really information on what an Empanada was or what was in them. Truth be told I saw the name and what they looked like and I was hooked on trying to make them. What can I say - meet in puff pastry how could that not turn out good right!?

Then as I started to prepare for the recipe I actually looked at the ingredients and couldn't believe that there were green olives and hard boiled eggs in the actual filling.  I was surprised and the funny thing is I didn't think that the husband would eat these because of the filling.

I figured I would dive in and try them anyways and as the recipe laid out the filling. The funny thing is they were completely amazing and so good I actually only managed to get one picture.  The husband loved them and the daughter keep sneaking them out of the fridge and ate six in one night and then kept begging to be able to have them to bring with her to school.

The recipe was a hit - and honestly I have looked just a little more into them and it turns out that these little bomb shells can have tons of different fillings. I had made a double batch of the puff pastry - which wasn't necessary and means I have some left over - which also means that I will just have to make more. I am sure the family will suffer through the hardship of eating them again willingly.

Onion Pakora, Samosas and Empenadas
2 - 11 ounce packages of frozen all-butter puff pastry (I made my own)
Olive Oil
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
10 ounces ground beef
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes
Pinch of sugar
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 large egg beaten

  1. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/8 inch and cut out 18 discs, using 4-inch cutter or saucer. Cover the discs with plastic wrap and chill while preparing the filling.
  2. Heat a sauce pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Sweat the onion and garlic gently for about 5 minutes until soft but no coloured. Add the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and stir until aromatic. 
  3. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Mix in the olives, oregano, chile flakes, sugar, and hard-boiled eggs. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Leave to cool.
  4. Once the beef has cooled, spoon 1 tablespoon onto each pastry disc, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edge. Brush beaten egg around half the border, then fold the pastry over and press the edges together to seal and create a half-moon shape. Crimp the edges, removing any air pockets as you go. 
  5. Chill the empanadas for 20 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. 
  6. Place the empanadas on a baking sheet. Make a steam hole in the top of each one with a skewer, then brush with beaten eggs. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. 
  7. Once the empanadas are cooked, cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with chimichurri sauce.