I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Sometimes my kids amaze me. Sometimes it's with their ability, their perseverance, their intellect, their hilarious senses of humour, their achievements, their faith and integrity.

Of course between all those times we have the clothes not picked up, chores not quite done, homework half-attempted and given up, bickering over little things, and those sorts of things that make us all human.

Sometimes, though, that amazement is just in the simple ways they are themselves. These glimpses of the precious people they are, the young women they are becoming, often stop me short and make me think, "how did we ever get to such an amazing place?"

I'm blessed beyond what I deserve in these girls, and I hope never to forget that.

Friday, 18 March 2011

another year in history

It's the time of the school year when for a couple of weeks everything else is shelved and the girls get to work taking all their research of the months before and putting it into presentation-ready form for the Historica Fair. They learn about a specific area of history but also learn research, organization, and presentation as they described their project and answered questions for the judges. We had three projects from our house this year, for the last time as next year R will have passed the grade 9 upper age limit.

M covered the story of Vincent Coleman, hero of the Halifax Explosion of 1917. A very cool story (the vignette that inspired her to research this is here), we found newspapers from the days after the event at the National Archives and she learned about his life and even covered the possibility that he didn't stop the train.

A had a sort of followup to last year's project on Vimy Ridge, as one of the soldiers from the cemetery there was brought back to Canada in 2000 to lie in state and be buried as our Unknown Soldier. She learned about the tomb's history and structure, built a scale model of it, and reported on the unknown's last journey to Ottawa.

R was back after a year off and revisited a topic of a few years back, this time in much more detail and depth. She learned about the New England Planters, a group of immigrants to Canada from (you guessed it) New England to take up free land left behind after the Acadians were expelled. This group included some of our ancestors who were, pretty much, land grabbers. She learned about changes this group brought in construction and government, as well as the back stories of how they came to live in Nova Scotia.

They did a great job. A took first prize in her age group at the fair, but all three girls are able to go on to Regionals in April.

Monday, 14 March 2011

daring cooks, march

Another month, another chance to make food I had never heard of - and introduce a few new favourites to our family! We got to sample Peruvian food this month and were joined by B, E and family. 

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

The names and ingredients had me looking a few things up beforehand (and that research made me very happy that cuy, another Peruvian dish that is basically cooked whole guinea pig, was not on the list!). Ceviche is basically fish or seafood that is cooked chemically rather than with heat. Papas rellanas con carne, meat-stuffed potatoes, had a filling with all sorts of ingredients, wrapped in a mashed potato 'dough', then crumbed and deep-fried to crisp it up. Finally, salsa criolla as a side and topping to the rest brought it all together.

Ceviche: chemical cooking. So, in a way, it's raw fish. Lime juice with hot chilies, garlic and coriander was poured over the cut fish (we used tilapia, it being the freshest white fish our local store had) and left to sit with red onions in the fridge for half an hour or so. It's really very simple to make. While the rawness had some skeptical, it was a big hit. 

The texture is not what one might expect, as the acid from the lime juice made it buttery-soft rather than tough or flaky. For taste I was cautious with the chilies; E and I were thinking more could have gone in but others thinking it was just right. The girls, sushi lovers all, dove in and liked this dish. On a side note, I had leftovers the next day and the texture had not become rubbery at all, a nice surprise.

Papas rellanas con carne
Papas rellanas: many steps, but wow, what a finish! A filling made of ground beef, garlic, onion, hot chilies, raisins (yes, really), olives, and hard boiled eggs (yes, really) and spices was put into a dough made from mashed potatoes. The dough was stickier than some I saw in the videos, but was manageable. The deep frying went smoothly (felt a bit like a pro after last month's tempura) and didn't make them at all greasy, just crisped up the outside to a nice crunch. 

They look, once crumbed and cooked, like little potatoes which seemed fitting in a meta-potato sort of way. The combination of flavours in the filling had people guessing just what it was, and all worked together to create a whole that was delicious.

Salsa criolla: this was a surprise star of the show. Made as an accompaniment, E loved this and it's so simple! Thinly sliced red onions and diced hot chilies with lime juice and vinegar. And, some time in the fridge. Yeah, that's it. The combination of sweet onion, sour lime and hot chili was amazing. I just kept going back for more.
Supper that had us wanting summer! Ceviche (front left), salsa criolla (back left), and papas rellanas (right) with corn.

While the recipe for pisco sours looked interesting, there was not a bottle of pisco puro to be found in the city. So, we went with premade mojitos, and the lime and mint in that made a nice addition to the rest.

The dinner received rave reviews from adults and kids who had it (it being a culinary adventure, we had hot dogs for the kids who were wary of the strange food). Our three girls have asked for repeats of all three dishes. Bee declared it delicious and we had some awesome cupcakes for dessert that she'd brought along.

All three dishes I will definitely make again - in fact, as I munched on the leftover ceviche yesterday, I started mentally planning a summer party by the pool with ceviche, salsa criolla, and other tapas dishes. Maybe some sangria.  Now if only I could get the snow to leave so that can become a reality...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

limber, or not

So D and I started morning yoga, thanks to a DVD with five 20-minute morning workouts that each emphasize a different technique or body area. Standing poses were yesterday, twists today, bends and other stretches in the days to come.

Yes - I now have my hockey-playing, gun-shooting, all-man hubby not only eating tofu, but doing yoga.

Truth be told, it's to help in his hockey conditioning, aid in flexibility to help his power skating. But it's been nice to get up early together and do the workout, sharing laughs as we do the poses. We decided yesterday that the reason for the name of the 'downward dog' pose was, that both dogs decided it was the perfect time to run up and lick our faces. The slobbery visit by Sam did not exactly add to the calming nature of the pose.

I've wanted to limber up, too, thinking of getting back to running as spring approaches. I have been surprised to find that I miss the morning run, but several times as I've stood at the end of the driveway I have looked down the road, thinking: soon, when it's warmer, I can head down that road again, every step challenging me and I feel an odd lift.

The DVD is good, the short workouts very doable even in terms of a busy day. And while neither of us is nowhere near as flexible as Mr. Uberbendy Yoga Instructor, and our living room not quite so scenic as the Arizona landscape behind him, it's good to start the morning with it.