It's So Hot

I'm really not complaining in general, I mean, at least we've got the A/C to rely on. But it's just been so incredibly hot the last week. It's nice that the weather has warmed but the heat actually makes it kind of difficult for Bayla and I to do much of anything. It's too hot to go for walks outside and I don't want to spend my days at the mall. I can't even put sunscreen on Bayla yet so we've got to avoid the sun as well ... which quite honestly is better for me anyway since I seem to burn despite sunscreen anyway. I've just bought a new bottle of 75! .. so we'll see if that does the trick. 

It's just so hard to sit inside our house all day long. It gets boring and lonely for us. It's very unfortunate that I don't have any friends with a pool. I would love nothing more than to spend the day with Bayla in and out of the water. Best summer ever! :-) But anyway, there's no pool so we've got to make due with the little corner of shade we've got at the side of the house. There's no shade at all in the backyard proper, which is great for our growing veggies... but not so great for me and Bayla. Luckily, our side yard is in shade for most of the day so I've been laying down some beach towels and we've been hanging out there, looking at the clouds, singing and cuddling. 

Lazy Summer Days

Backyard Cuddle

Maybe in the next few months, as she learns to sit on her own I'll be able to put on the sprinkler and have that splash us for a little respite from the heat. Not sure if she would like that, but it's worth a shot. We did get sprayed yesterday when Zvi turned on the sprinkler to water the front lawn and trees while we were standing on the porch. I wasn't expecting the shock of the cold water but Bayla didn't seem to mind too much. Perhaps that will be exactly what we'll do come July and August!

I meant to make this soup and post about a couple of weeks back, but well, that never happened. I finally got around to making it but now that it's not shavuot I don't really need to associate every dish with the smallest bit of shredded cheese as being "dairy in honour of the holiday."

This is another recipe from Kraft's What's Cooking magazine. This latest spring issue is actually quite good. There are 3 recipes in there that I have already made. The Spring Pesto Pasta was great. This Minute Minestrone is great. And the Sesame Noodles were also quite good. I didn't bother blogging about them because I didn't take pictures, and I'm on a dairy kick and the only thing dairy about those noodles is that there isn't any meat in them. Maybe I'll write about them some other time. I've just recently received the summer issue but I haven't had a chance to look through it and make anything from it yet.

The Kraft magazine has a $3.95 price tag on it, though I can't imagine who possibly would pay for it or where you would buy it. I've just checked out the Kraft website and I'm actually not sure that you can sign up for this magazine anymore anyway. They've got another magazine that you have to pay to subscribe to. Maybe I just keep receiving this one because I signed up for it long ago. I hope they never stop sending it, unlike the free Glow magazine I used to get from Shoppers Drug Mart. Yes, it was another long ad for the store, however ... there were some good articles and it was a good way for me to read up about various products. I really liked getting it and was quite sad when it stopped coming my way.

So back to the minestrone ... it's not that I didn't know how to make this before hand. But this is a great version because it's so quick and easy. The recipe in the magazine calls for chicken in the soup which obviously we can't have, but still ... this is a great easy base to work with. You can put in different veggies for a change. And really, the whole thing is quite healthy ... what with its whole wheat pasta and beans!

4 cups vegetables (I used corn, peas and carrots [all we had today that wasn't already earmarked for other things... you'd think it was winter here or something!])
1 1/2 900 mL cartons vegetable broth
1 can 596 mL diced tomatoes
1 can 540 mL white beans, well rinsed
1 1/2 cup whole wheat rotini
1 cup shredded mozzarella
salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste. I also put in some garlic and onion powder because we somehow had neither fresh in the house.

Step 1: Combine all ingredients except cheese in a saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring occasionally.

Step 2: Simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until pasta is tender.

Step 3: Serve topped with cheese.

I'm not bothering with pictures of this soup, there's nothing to show but suffice it to say that it was delicious and Zvi and I gobbled up our bowls.

Mother's Day Portrait
This is the mother's day portrait I mentioned earlier. It's amazing that it wasn't even taken a month ago and I feel like Bayla has changed so much since then. For one thing, she's got TEETH! One of her bottom teeth cracked through the gums on Sunday and I can see another one starting to pop out. I think it'll be out either later today or tomorrow. What a big girl!

To go along with her new "big girl" status, she's started doing a new kind of smile. It's really funny and looks really cute. It's almost like she's trying to show us her little chicklet teeth. Hilarious.
A new smile

Ah - summer, I love this time of year! Not only are the days longer and the weather just beautiful, this time of year is wonderful becomes it brings freedom from the television! The end of the tv season is a little different this time around though because some of the endings are permanent this time. Heroes has been over for a while and I'm not at all surprised that it was cancelled, so that's ok. I think I'm more or less done watching V as well. The show is pretty cheesy and intrinsically flawed in its basic premise but more than anything, I just can't stand looking at Morena Baccarin , who plays Anna. I liked her so much more when she was Inara in Firefly .

But the biggest change of all in the tv lineup for me is the ending of Lost . As far as I can recall, this is only the second show I've ever watched from start to finish that has actually run its course and not been cancelled somewhere along the way (BSG was first).  To be honest, I was ready for this show to end because it had really gotten a bit silly over the years. Of course, that being said, I was still looking forward to getting answers to the island's great mysterious that had piled up over all these years. After having watched the finale, I was pretty at peace with how it all ended. Yes, it didn't answer much of anything about the mysteries, but it was a neat ending that at least left things wrapped up. But the more I thought about it, the more uneasy I got about the conclusion ... basically, the finale told us that everything about the island really happened (unbelievable-magic-fantastica and all) and that at some point all the characters died (when and how is basically irrelevant) and met up in this made up pre-heaven kind of place (the flash-sideways we've been seeing over the last season) so that they could find each other again and then eventually move on to heaven. I like the ending and I like how it explained what flash-sideways was about ... but what about the last 5 seasons?!?!?! It's funny that all the crazy stuff that happened on the show was real and then the normal looking stuff at the end ended up being the made up part. There were also some continuity errors, at least in my opinion ... like why was Sayid reunited with Shannon as the love of his life when it should have been Nadia? If it couldn't have been Nadia because she wasn't on the island, then how come Desmond got to be with Penny? Watching this collection of unanswered questions really just kind of made me more upset.

Anyway, ultimately it really doesn't matter because the show is over. Truth is that as much as it would have been really nice to get answers to all of those questions about the island, I didn't really expect that it would happen in any kind of satisfactory way and I'm actually much more at peace with this ending than I will ever be about the ultimate end of BSG. I just don't get what happened with Starbuck and how she just disappeared and what that was all about. Best not to bring all of that angst up again.

There are a few other shows that I have watched start to finish but it's not the same because they were cancelled somewhere in between so the endings were slapped together and not at all satisfactory. Dollhouse and American Dreams (Heroes too) are in this group. Shows like Tru Calling,  Journeyman, and Kings were just cancelled without any kind of conclusion at all.

So now, I have my Tuesday nights back. That's really great! I just hope that Zvi and I find a better use of our time come the fall instead of retiring to the couch every evening.

In the meantime, we now have our summer to continue working on our backyard oasis. Everything in our garden has been growing a lot due to the hot-hot weather. Check here to see the progress.

whole garden may 23 2010

I'm really looking forward to start harvesting some of this goodness! Can't wait. 

Continuing on with our week of dairy meals in honour of Shavuot, this recipe is adapted from Kraft's What's Cooking Magazine. I know most of the magazine is an ad for Kraft products ... but I still love receiving it in the mail. Sometimes there are really great recipes included, and if not, it's still great getting a magazine in the mail - especially a free one!

I pretty much tripled this recipe to use the entire package of fettuccine. I don't like making only 2-4 servings at a time usually. Not that Zvi and I like to eat the same thing every day, but it's great having enough to feed guests when they come by. I also really prefer to make a lot of a few things so we have variety and the ability to choose what we eat throughout the week.

This pasta dish was quite good and very simple to make. I usually cook with less pre-made ingredients, but the truth is that making my own cream sauce would not only have cost more money and taken more time, it probably would have been a lot more fattening as well. I would have used my own vegetable broth if I was in the habit of keeping some around, but I'm not. I usually just make my own broth as I'm making soup and I never really put aside any extra for using later on. Maybe I should.

1 900g package of fettuccine
1 bundle asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
1 container herb and garlic cream cheese
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cups pesto parmesan dressing
2 cups frozen peas
chopped basil for garnish

Step 1: Cook pasta as per package instructions. Add asparagus during the last minute. Drain and set aside in large bowl.

Asparagus Pasta

Step 2: Over medium heat, cook cream cheese, broth and dressing. Cook until sauce begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Stir in peas and cook for 2 minutes.
Spring Pasta Sauce

Step 3: Add sauce to pasta. Mix thoroughly.
Mix Together

Step 4: Top with basil. Enjoy.
Ta Da

In honour of Shavuot, I've decided to make a number of dairy meals this week. The first of many was an amazingly delicious braided lemon cheese loaf that I saw on smittenkitchen. It was pretty easy to make, though I did appreciate Zvi taking Bayla outside with him while he was digging holes around the arbour for our new clematis vines. I was working on a pasta dish at the same time (which I'll write about another time) and so it would've been difficult juggling playing with Bayla as well. This loaf is not overly sweet, making it perfect for a light dessert or even breakfast. Smitten mentioned wanting to try it again with a filling other than lemon curd, and I agree ... from the moment I tasted it I started dreaming about how good it would taste made with fresh juicy peaches later in the summer. Cherries would also be delicious ... probably any berry actually and now that I'm thinking about it ... strawberry-rhubarb would no doubt be incredible as it would have that same sweet/sour taste as the lemon curd. But I digress, the cream cheese lemon flavour is amazing and Zvi and I are really enjoying our pre-Shavuout dairy treat.

Don't be frightened of the many components in this recipe. There are many elements, but none of them are difficult to make. Just take it one step at a time and you'll be very grateful that you did!

6 tbsp warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
2 eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with water for brushing
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
sugar and poppy seeds for sprinkling

Cream Cheese Filling
1/3 cup softened cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

Lemon Curd
3 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Step 1: Make Sponge. Combine sponge ingredients. Stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 15 minutes.


Step 2: Make Dough. Combine dough ingredients and mix with a stand mixer, first using the paddle attachment and then the dough hook. Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is soft and smooth. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour. Dough should be nearly doubled in size.

Step 3: Make Lemon Curd. Here 's a great tip for squeezing lemon juice without getting any pits. In a saucepan, over low heat, whisk together lemon curd ingredients. Whisk frequently until curd has thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer lemon curd to bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. You'll only need 1/4 cup of lemon curd for this recipe but you'll have almost 1/2 cup. Enjoy the remainder with some toast, some yogurt, or just lick it up from the bowl. Mmmm mmmm good!
Lemon Curd

Step 4: Make Cream Cheese Filling. Combine all filling ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Step 5: Assemble Loaf. Gently punch down dough. Roll it out on a well floured surface into a large rectangle, about the size of your baking sheet. Transfer dough to parchment paper lined baking sheet. Gently mark 3 equal columns lengthwise in the dough. Spread cream cheese filling over the center section, leaving about an inch at the top and bottom uncovered. Spread lemon curd over the cream cheese. Cut an equal number of 1 inch strips on either side of the loaf. Be careful not to cut through the parchment paper like I did. I used a sharp knife, a bench scraper probably would have been wiser.
Cream Cheese Filling
Lemond Curd and Cream Cheese Filling

Step 6: Braid Loaf. Remove 4 corner segments. Fold top down and bottom up. Overlap strips on opposite sides of the loaf working your way down. You can tuck the last few strips under the loaf or just press them into the bottom like I did. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about an hour.
Cut Strips

Step 7: Bake Loaf. Brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar and poppy seeds. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375F. Loaf should be golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting into it, giving the cheese some time to cool.
Ready For The Oven
Out Of The Oven

Step 8: Enjoy. Try not to eat the whole loaf at once ... seriously, it's that good!

What a lovely day - err, weekend, I should say. We had to make it a mother's day weekend because there are just too many people to celebrate with to fit it all into one day. Especially with Bayla. We had a lovely brunch with my grandma and aunt, we visited my mom, Zvi visited his grandma, and then we had Zvi's parents over for dinner. And of course there was our very own little breakfast party for me. Zvi made the most amazing oatmeal pancakes for me. Since we switched away from quick oats (for both health and taste reasons), we are both really loving oatmeal for breakfast on weekends. And this recipe took it to a whole new level .... oatmeal = great, pancakes = great, strawberry sauce = great ... so what's not to love? :-) The only problem, as we both unfortunately discovered later on Sunday night ... is that we both truly are lactards and using butter, no matter how small an amount, in the batter, on the griddle, and later on top of the pancakes just does NOT work for us. Oh well ... lesson learned. Small price to pay for such deliciousness.

Despite all the hustle and bustle of the weekend, Bayla was such a good girl. She often gets overwhelmed by going to lots of different places and being surrounded by noise and people. I was really proud of her. Here's a picture of her relaxing on the couch with her saba before dinner last night. Oh how she loves tv.


"Bayla" made me the cutest card too. It really made my day.
First Mother's Day

And I got these lovely Japanese Forged Flower Shears. I can use them to cut flowers from the garden and also to thin my veggies.

We gave everyone a framed portrait of Bayla. It was such a cute photo that we made one for ourselves as well. I'm hoping Brian will scan a copy for me so that I'll have it online as well. The studio wanted $100 for a digital copy so I decided it wasn't worth it.

Unfortunately we weren't able to get much done in the garden this weekend, or even get to the regular garden chores like raking and mowing because we were busy with mother's day and because despite the fact that May 9th is supposed to be the last frost date in this area - the temperature dropped dramatically and we had SNOW! Zvi had to cover up the veggies with some landscaping fabric and a tarp to keep our veggies safe. We took it off yesterday in the day time but put it back down overnight. I think we may have to do the same again tonight ... but hopefully that will be the last of it.

Zvi did have a bit of time though to go pick up some more stuff for our garden. He's got everything he needs to build the next raised garden bed. Hopefully he'll have some time for it this week. He picked up the landscape fabric and all the soil stuffs to fill the bed. And ... this part is very exciting ... we've got 12 asparagus plants and 2 rhubarb plants to go into the bed once it's ready. Since we got the plants this weekend and since I'm so excited about them, I'm just going to count them as part of my mother's day present :-) They're all happily hanging out in my kitchen by the patio door for now. I'm amazed at how quickly the asparagus is growing ... why just yesterday I was fawning over two very cute little mini asparagus spears and now one of them has shot up at least 2 inches and another 2 have popped out of nowhere. If you look closely in the pictures you should be able to spot them ... and if not, I'm happy to show them off when you come over!
Rhubarb and Asparagus Plants

Oh! And how could I almost forget about this ... Zvi and Brian went to pick up some free maple and walnut stumps because Zvi wants to make stools out of them for the backyard. I'm still really not sure how I feel about this.... especially now that I see they're not all the same and are even different heights.  Are we really going to want to sit on these??? Anyway, apparently the walnut stump weighs about 100 lbs! Crazy. Nice of that man with the house on Dufferin to give them away for free.
Walnut and Maple Logs

Mostly everything that I've planted so far has started to sprout ... still waiting on the carrots, and two of the lettuces. While I was uncovering the bed this morning I took some pictures of the cute little sprouts that you can see here.  Looks like it's almost time to thin some of them out.

Bayla and I have really been enjoying the lovely weather. Why, just the other day I put out some beach towels in the backyard (to do: get a big picnic type blanket), brought out the bumbo chair and we had a blast hanging out and playing our usual games in a different environment.

Fun In The Sun

Too Bright? Borrow Mommy's Shades!

It was too bright out for Bayla so I lent her my shades for a while. She was a little confused at first and resisted the foreign object being put over her face but eventually she figured out that it was cool because she could now open her eyes. So cute! 

The garden is coming along nicely for now. Zvi finished building, digging, and amending the soil so I went ahead and planted some lettuces, carrots, radishes, beets, spinach, onions and peas. 

Square Foot Garden, Here I Come!

Planting Seeds

Bayla and I take little mini trips out into the backyard daily to check on the progress and do a little gentle watering if there hasn't been enough rain. So far some of my onions, radishes, peas and lettuces are starting to peak out of the ground. How exciting!

On Wednesday, I finally got over my fear of organized activities and took Bayla out for a stroller fit class with a group of 7 other moms with their babies. It was a beautiful day and we did a great walk through G Ross Lord Park. Twice up and down the hills, some squats, lunges, skips and stretches later ... I'm actually embarrassed to say that my legs are sore. I can't wait for next Wednesday so we can go again. Until Bayla fell asleep halfway through I had her sitting mostly upright in the stroller and it seemed like she really enjoyed looking around at all the new sights - grass, trees, people, and nature. I'm planning on taking Bayla to a kindermusik class on Monday as well ... another trip out of the house. I can't wait to see how she reacts to an activity with other babies that will be so focused on her and her development. More on that to follow. 

About this blog

I started out just being me but I always wanted to be a little like my grandma. Then I became a wife. Then I also became a mom. This is the story of how I learn to put it all together :-)