Lammily: Because You Know, Eating is a Good Thing

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Santa is getting a little help from Nickiolay Lamm in my house this year. Lamm is the guy that created the realistic barbie that went viral in the summer of 2013.

Lamm used 3d printing and photoshop to make the realistically portioned fashion doll.

In an interview with Huffington Post Lamm points out,

“If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well,”

The moment I saw it I started badgering my husband, asking why someone didn’t just make a doll like this. Poor guy, he happens to take the brunt of a lot of my cultural indignation.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one willing to open my wallet for the chance to boot Barbie out of our house. After request from wanna-be-customers Lamm used tilt (previously Crowdtilt) and raised the funds to make the doll a reality within a single day.

When I was a tween my Barbie always belted out Jann Arden’s Insensitive after her date with Ken. Sure, a little dramatic, but at 13 I thought all romances needed to be fit for an episode of Beverley Hills 90210.

I don’t exactly think Barbie is the devil in stilettos. A few have made their way into my house (thanks grandparents..). They’ve been granted sanctuary for the time being.

Lammily has articulated joints, a toned down outfit and minimal makeup.

In the kitchen I wage the war to help my daughters develop a healthy relationship with food. Body image issues are another battle in that fight. I’m glad that as they get older I’ll have Lammily for reinforcements.

The price is reasonable at $25 and they are working on expanding her wardrobe. There is still time to order before Christmas, the first ones are expected to ship in November.

What do you think? Would you welcome Lammily into your house? Do you think your kids would let her join the dream house?

How to Make Cream of Any Veggie Soup

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Seeing the leaves changing colour puts a little pep in my step. Not only is it my favourite season of the year,  I find it much easier to consistently cook local, from scratch meals during the fall and winter.

I think part of the problem is that I need to up my salad game, start using more inspired ingredients.

Soups though, those I am freaking amazing at. They practically make themselves. Local veggies have so much flavour, they easily make a fantastic soup.

The Four Things You Need

Mirepoix

Carrots, Celery and Onions are the triad that form the base flavour for all french cooking. The usual ratio is equal amounts celery and carrots and twice as many onions. A lot of times garlic is added as well.

Veggie

Try anything you can find locally. You can even change the ratios of the mirepoix to make onion, carrot, or celery soup.

Spices/Herbs

These change depending on what flavour you are going for. Most soups are best with the addition of a single herb. Thyme, Parsley, Basil and Cilantro will serve you well. Spices aren’t as commonly used in soups, unless you are going for an ethnic flavour (like I did with my Carrot Soup). Cinnamon and Ginger would be useful to keep on hand.

I’ll include bay leaf, salt and pepper in this group. Partially because they do the same thing (add/develop flavour) and partially because I’m too lazy to give them their own group.

Stock/Broth

This serves as the liquid to cook the veggies in and adds body to the end result. Home made is great, and pretty easy to make. Store bought will do fine as well.

Dairy

Milk or cream will add richness. Sour cream, greek yogurt, and grated cheese help develop a more complex flavour.SONY DSC

How to Combine Them

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Mirepoix, Broccoli, Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper, Stock, Milk and Grated Old Cheddar Cheese.

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Mirepoix, Granny Smith Apple, Parsnip, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper, Stock, Milk and Grated Gouda.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Mirepoix (with equal amounts celery and onions and twice as many carrots), Cumin, Curry, Cinnamon, Ginger, Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper, Stock, Milk and Sour Cream.

Leek and Potato Soup

Mirepoix (only celery and onions, the orange in the carrot would muddy the colour of the soup), Leeks, Peeled Potatoes, Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper, Stock, Milk and Sour Cream. Can finish with a bit of chopped spring onions for colour.

Roasted Zucchini Soup

Mirepoix, Zucchini (roast in the oven to help develop flavour), Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper, Stock, Milk and Grated Parmesan.SONY DSC

What to do With Them

Chop and Sautee

Cut up your mirepoix and veggie. Grate your cheese.

Heat up your pot with a bit of olive oil. Sautee the mirepoix and veggie for about 5 minutes.

Combine

Add your bay leaf, spices, herbs and stock. Make sure the veggies are completely covered. Top off with more water/stock if needed. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until the veggies are soft.

Puree

Remove bay leaf. Puree using an immersion blender, food processor or blender. At this point if you have a young baby who isn’t eating solids yet you can set some aside as baby food (great way to introduce spices/herbs).

Finish

Put the pureed soup back into the pot. Add milk to bring it to a consistency you like. Add sour cream and cheese if using and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

That’s all you need to know to turn any veggie into a quick soup. I usually make large batches and freeze them in mason jars. My husband grabs some to take to work and I’ll pull some out for lunches at home. Soups are a quick veggie filled, tasty meal during the cooler months. Now I just need to find the summer equivalent.

4 Things I Bother Preserving

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SONY DSCCooking from scratch and eating locally is a balancing act. All of the benefits that come from eating high quality food have to be weighed against my limited resources- time, energy and money. I’ve been at this a few years now and each year I refine my approach a little more.

Things to consider:

  • What is available in your area?
  • What isn’t easy/cheap to get in the winter months?
  • Most importantly: what does your family enjoy eating?

Eating locally/seasonly isn’t the same as striding into the pages of Little House on the Prairie. This isn’t a one (wo)man show anymore. My pantry extends to all the amazing stores around Kingston that offer local food year round. My jam cupboard has been filled by vendors who take the time to preserve in the fall and let me cherry pick from their collection as I need to.

What I am aiming to do is:

  • Save myself some money (tomatoes are much cheaper at the farmer’s market right now then they will be at the grocery store in January),
  • Add some variety to our diets: in the middle of squash season (previously known as winter) a bowl of tomato soup is AMAZING.
  • Cut our some cooking time: The food gets processed in some way and this means that is that much less I have to do when throwing together a meal in later months.
  • Keep the Mason Jar Company in business.

My list is small. Major kudos to those preserving warriors who can and freeze and dehydrate their way through the farmer’s fields. I concentrate on the things that bring the biggest reward right now. As the kids get older I’ll keep expanding.

Tomatoes

Why I Do It

We’re major fans of tomato based soups and sauces here. In the winter months fresh tomatoes have so little flavour, I hate buying tinned tomatoes because of worries about chemicals leeching from the lining, and it is expensive to buy the organic glassed jarred tomatoes available in the stores.

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What I Do

  • Wash
  • Puree
  • Reduce on Medium Heat for 20 Minutes
  • Strain
  • Pour Into Jars
  • Label and Date
  • Put in Freezer
  • Paste: After Straining, Place on Low Simmer Until Most of the Liquid has Evaporated, Freeze in Ice Cube Tray, Place in Bag, Label and Date.

What I Use it For

Tomato Soup, Spaghetti Sauce, Chilli, Random Pasta Sauces, Moroccan Stew, Minestrone Soup. I use the paste in a ton of different things, anywhere I want to add some flavour.

Green Beans

Why I Do It

In the middle of winter anything green is welcomed. With the green beans already chopped up in the freezer its too easy to grab a handful and throw them into whatever I’m making.

What I Do

  • Wash
  • Slice
  • Boil for 30 Seconds
  • Put in to a bowl/sink full of Ice WAter
  • Put in Freezer Bags
  • Label and Date
  • Put in Freezer

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What I Use it For

Chicken Pot Pie, Beef Stew, Broth Soups.

Herbs:

Why I Do It

In the winter the grocery store selection of herbs can be very limited, and the organic ones are over priced. Also having Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Cilantro, Dill and Green Onions (not technically a herb, but takes the same prep) already chopped and in the freezer cuts out a bunch of hassle when I’m cooking.

What I Do

  • Wash
  • Chop
  • Put in Small Bags
  • Label and Date
  • Put in Freezer

What I Use it For

I use herbs to add some fresh flavour to soups, stews and sauces. The Dill is mostly used for hot wings… seriously hot sauce and dill is way better than you think it is. Green onions are a great garnish for cream or potato based soups.

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Red Peppers:

Why I Do It

This is the first year I’ve added these to the list. I’ve used roasted red peppers pretty frequently so I know I can get good use out of them in the colder months. They get really expensive in the winter (especially the organic ones). This will also add another option for a quick soup to throw together when I’m just not feeling it.

What I Do

  • Wash
  • Roast at 400f for 15-20 minutes (skin will start to blacken)
  • Place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap
  • When Cool Peel off Skin and Remove Stem/Seeds
  • Puree
  • Pour into Jars
  • Label and Date
  • Put in Freezer

What I Use it For

Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Roasted Red Pepper Dip/Spread, Pasta Sauce

Make It Work

This is what works for me at this time. If I can get ahold of the in-law’s dehydrator I’ll probably do up some dried apples/fruit leather. My kids love that stuff.

I’m careful not to overload myself or else I will resent the whole process. Take on one thing at a time and see if future you feels like it was worth it. Also be sure to scope out your local farmer’s market and stores that stock local goods, don’t do unnecessary work. Make it work for you.

5 Reasons Why I Hate Cooking with my Kids and 3 Reasons I do it Anyway

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1524011_10154351280710370_440017689342755454_oI bought into so many of the pinterest fables when I first had kids. I couldn’t wait for my kid to be big enough to stand at the counter with me to use her Montessori inspired kitchen tools. Matching aprons mandatory.

Now she’s 3 and I’m 3 years the wiser.

Most days having my kid in the kitchen with me is a giant pain in the ass. Kind of like most of parenthood. And just like all of the other herculean parenting tasks we take on it’s still worth it (most days).

Why I Hate Cooking with My Kid:

1. The Mess

She makes a mess. Every time, unfailingly. Sometimes it’s a big mess- flour covering every square inch of the kitchen floor. Sometimes it’s a bit of sauce spilled on the counter having been stirred with more enthusiasm than the bowl could contain. I like cooking, I HATE cleaning.

2. The Questions.

It’s a constant barrage. Somedays I’m tempted to make a sign for my kitchen that lets everyone know that a full ban on the question mark is in effect at all times. I wonder if you an find that on pinterest?

3. Things Aren’t Done Perfectly.

I’ll admit it, I have a slight problem with perfectionism. When she dumps the shredded mozzarella into a tall mound on the corner of the lasagna my inner type A personality cringes.

4. It Takes More Time.

Instead of being able to set up an efficient work space I have to set things up to make it as easy as possible for her to help. Oh and I have to stop and answer questions, clean up messes, and redistribute mozzarella.

5. The Company.

I’m an introvert who spends almost every waking moment in the company of two kids. Sometimes cooking is the only time I get to retreat back into my lovely bubble and recharge. And drink wine. Both are hard to do when she’s cooking with me. The wine will inevitably get spilled (see #1).

Why I do It Anyway:

1. Food Skills

I want to send my kids out into the world with a set of food skills they absorbed during their childhood. This means creating food out of real ingredients has to be as everyday to her as brushing her teeth.

2. Brings her into my world.

Being a STHM is not a natural thing for me. I enjoy it well enough most days, but often I feel I’m wearing a Mom mask. When my daughter cooks with me I get to share a part of the real person I am. I have a natural confidence in the kitchen that makes it easy for me to clearly set limits and expectations. I struggle with doing that in our day to day lives.

3. Traditions.

I am a sap for holidays and traditions. I’m 80% sure the main reason I had kids was for Christmastime (and how awesome is it that that is a real word?). Food traditions are one of the few things that cut across all cultures, past and present. I am afraid by letting factories do our cooking we are also going to lose the memories that are created while preparing the foods together. I want to use those opportunities to bond with my kids in the middle of the hectic lives we live. So yeah having my kid in the kitchen doesn’t look like the pinterest shots. I can only imagine it’s going to get worse as the 1 year old starts to join in. Still worth it. Might need more wine though.

How to Make a Roasted Any Veggie Sauce in Four Steps

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SONY DSCWhen I’m not sure what to do with veggies, or I’m sick of eating them as a simple side I opt to make them into a pasta dish.

It is a straight forward technique, you can adapt it hundreds of ways, and if you don’t have the time to do it all at once feel free to break it up, even do half one day and half another.

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Food Bank Kicks KD to the Curb

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CTV ran an article this week featuring an interview with Ottawa food center coordinator Karen Secord. The main message: don’t donate nutritionally vacant foods like KD and candy, we don’t want them.

It hadn’t been posted a half hour before the comments on facebook passed the 300 mark. I spent a good part of my morning throwing re-heated pancakes at my kids and delving into the post. (One of the best things to come out of the internet are the conversations that grow in the comments sections of articles).

The people who organize and run things like the food banks around our cities are concerned about the less than stellar diet being offered to those who come in needing help.

I use to work in the kitchen of a center that offered food and beds to transients. The menu was obliged to follow the Canada Food Guide and technically met the requirements.

Occasional salad aside, it was filled with endless refined carbs and processed crap. White pasta, rice and potatoes were the largest components of most meals. Dessert was frequently jello or powdered pudding complete with ‘whipped cream topping’.

The budget was limited, and to be honest, the palate of the clients dictated what would be eaten and what would go to waste. Veggies were frequently dumped at the end of the day. Didn’t help that they were usually of the bagged and boiled variety (the worse possible fate for any vegetable).

I can understand the frustration of those filling the hampers for clients at the food shelters. When you feel like you are sending them off with nothing more than junk of course you would aim to do better.

But is refusing donations the way to go about it?

A good amount of the comments on the article added up to ‘beggars can’t be choosers‘ and ‘I won’t be donating anymore‘.

What a slap in the face, to be told the kind of foods you feed your family aren’t good enough for you to donate for those in need!

Another frequent theme in the comments: ‘everyone needs a little treat occasionally’.  Many pointed out that when they were in need of assistance they really appreciated a bag of Swedish berries among the endless cans of beans. A few shared stories about hauling home hampers that were filled with nothing other than junk.

Many pointed out that those making use of the donations should have the right to decide what they eat, that it wasn’t the place of the organizers to dictate what they would or would not receive.

I want to know; by refusing donations of nutritionally deficient foods do the donations of ideal foods increase? I highly doubt it. Unless a food bank is operating at a surplus (does that ever happen?) it just results in less food (good or bad) to go around.

This morning CTV ran another article featuring an interview with the executive director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks. Bill Laidlaw labelled the decision to refuse donations of KD and hotdogs as ‘unrealistic’.

I believe everyone has the right to access good food. I think, as it stands now, there is a wide discrepancy on what some people would qualify as ‘good’ or even ‘good enough’. Drawing lines on what a food bank will or will not accept is not the way to go about improving our food system. It puts people on the defensive and casts a harsh judgment on voluntary food choices.

Judging from the comments on article, it’s more likely to decrease donations than anything else.

Should food banks dictate what can be accepted and given out in the hampers? Do they have the right to act as nutritionist? Or is their role meant to be a facilitator, concentrating on making sure the donations are distributed?

 

 

Make Local Food Work For You: Spelt Pancakes

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SONY DSCI use to have dreams (disillusions) of whipping up a fresh batch of pancakes for breakfast early in the morning while my children played in the next room (ha!). Before becoming a stay at home mom I honestly thought this how my days would go.

The reality is that after dragging myself out of bed (usually because one of my lovely early risers is up) I am incapable of functioning until I have finished at least one cup of tea. Not going to lie, sometimes I nurse that one cup for an ungodly amount of time. Continue reading

Foodie Culture is Bad for Local Food: Expletive Warning

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Dan Barber, chef at New York restaurant Blue Hill, has made a call to local food enthusiasts to take the next step on the track of sustainable eating.

A link to the article from The Atlantic discussing Barber’s views popped up on my facebook feed via a post from the Memorial Centre Farmer’s Market.

I read it and then started in on the comments (almost always the best part of an article). I realized the comments forming in my own head were quickly becoming a full on rant.

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Localvore’s Shepherd’s Pie

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I have the urge to start almost every post with ‘I am lazy‘. Judgement on my personal character aside, what I’m trying to convey is that although I enjoy cooking (most days), I’m usually trying to minimize the effort required in the kitchen.

This version of Shepherd’s Pie is the result of me throwing together dinner a few days ago-making the best use of my CSA ingredients and keeping the time/effort to a minimum.

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