Sunday, August 30, 2009

Triathlons, Tornadoes and Cottages....Oh my!

Once again, there's a lapse in my blogging! Sorry friends, I really would like to tell you that there is a reason, but alas, there is not. I will say that I was diagnosed with ADD or ADHD...or whatever you get as an adult, 6 months ago, and I tend to forget to do things, if I don't take my medication on a daily basis. Of course, remembering to take the medication in the first place is part of the initial problem. :-)

Anyhow, about a week ago 7 tornadoes touched down in our region. It was a scary night, and a little bit exhilarating if I'm honest. There is just something so amazing about being scared out of your wits. Poor Hannah was quite terrified, and has been talking about death a lot in the past six months. She is very afraid that we are going to die. I hated being the bad guy, but I did let her know that it is part of life....this whole death thing. But dwelling on it, is not part of the whole life thing. Explaining it to her in these terms actually makes her feel better, and I feel like a good mom. However, I do have to keep her away from the news, as she is quite the little dweller on real life.

Speaking of real life, I mentioned the tornado for a reason. It was the night that started a very bad chain of events for the Newell family, in which we started eating out more often than not again. Knowing that starting a dinner during a tornado watch would be just silly, we ate take-out food. Then the old habits took over. We ate on the way to our cottage, then again on the way back from the cottage Oh! Quick story. At the cottage my uncle taught me how to barbecue the perfect steak. He showed me how to tell how well done the steak is just by pressing the tongs in the middle to see how bouncy the meat is. A neat technique, with great medium-rare steak results. Delish!

Anyhow....a week and a half later, and probably at least 6 meals eaten out, we are back on the wagon, and we did a major shopping expedition at the Wal-Mart Superstore or Supercentre, whatever it's called, tonight. Fresh fruits, veggies, and meat have taken over our fridge and I feel at peace again.

Tomorrow night I will attempt to cook a pork loin roast. With apples even! This is a first for me....and roasts are so yummy that I do hope that I don't screw it up! Corn and sweet potats will accompany the roast. A nice end to a crappy summer (weather-wise....but nice in every other way).

Another way to end the entry into my first triathlon!! It's in two weeks, and i'm scared silly. Craig is fitting me for his bike. I was going to use mine, but his is 10 times better, and my event is the day before his THIRD triathlon. I'm just doing a baby tri....sooo not brave enough to do a sprint. That will come next year, I hope.

Training has been fun. I have biked the 10k and then ran for over 1 k right after it. I would have kept going if I were wearing a proper sports bra. The girls were flopping all over the place, and after a 1 k run, I just couldn't take it anymore. But it was good to know that it was only my uncontrollable boobies that stopped me, and not screaming legs or a lack of will to go on.

Also, during our cottage weekend, Craig and I thought it would be fun to swim to a small island in the middle of our lake. Turns out that the island is almost 1 km away. So a swim there and back is more than four times the length i'll be doing for my tri....and it was really easy. The swim is going to be the most comfortable part for me. The bike is what i'm afraid's been a long time since i've biked out on the road, at a fast pace. This is my focus for the week, getting used to outdoor biking. Spinning classes, and road racing are two different I hear.

And now, the beauty rest...I so need sleep. Nicholas, the almost-four-year-old, has been getting up frequently for drinks during the night, and I'm exhausted from it. Any help on breaking this habit? It was easy to do when Hannah went through it, but she was two, not four and stubborn.

Off to sleep! Good night mes amies!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blonde Ambition

Yes, you read right. I am a blonde, ambitious girl.

Tonight, I have questioned myself about the motives behind my quest to become a healthy, inspired, organized....chef...or even...cook.

I really don't have a motive, I just want to show my kids, and I guess myself, that i'm not that much of a moran in the kitchen. Hannah told me tonight that she misses having pizza a lot, and going to get doughnuts. It's only been over a week, and we DID have pizza one night (Craig did a triathalon, we spent the day in 40 degree (104 F) at a beach in the time we got home, we were exhausted from the heat, and the kids wanted food now. I wasn't about to get into the kitchen and turn on the oven, so I reverted back to our old ways, and called for the Pizza Man. Craig says that it was a necessary matter, and that if we didn't, the kids would starve. OK I know they wouldn't, but we were just THAT tired).

Anyhow...totally digressing on the issue with Hannah. She loves loves loves junk food. Salty carbs are her favourite. One time she actually cried when I suggested that she only eat half a bagel, and try some fruit with her meal.

And there it motivation. Hannah and I are made out of the same mold, and that mold is made out of Jello. We both have a love/hate relationship with food. She already has said that she wishes she didn't like food so much. She is only six, and this saddens me beyond words.

So, showing her that I can make better decisions with food, will hopefully teach her, if not by my actions, then through osmosis. Monkey see, monkey do...that sort of thing.

Tonight we had whole wheat pasta and pork meatballs. Not a very inspired meal, but it was eaten and enjoyed by all.

I think i'm going to plan, and make sure that ALL ingredients are in the house for the meals for the next week and maybe two weeks. We are going away to our cottage this weekend, so this could be slightly challenging. I won't have full control over the meals...but I can certainly try to fit in at least three meals.

Ambitious....let's wait and see!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Martyr, She Wrote

I have had a trying week, during these past few hot and humid days of summer. Most of the Toronto area are rejoicing, for summer has found us at last. But it hurt me, mes amies, it hurts real bad (sorry, that sounded like an 80's angst love song).

I am a migraine sufferer. I have lived this summer, almost migraine-free and I knew it was too good to be true. The days frolicking around in the fall-like temperatures ended days before the heat came. My head should be purchased by The Weather Network, because it's bang-on with predictions of heat, and storms.

Alas, it has been trying, but soldiered on. Hence, the title of this blog. Yep, i'm a martyr. I laid in bed for most of the day on Thursday, thinking how wonderful it would be to take a drill to my temple and just do a bit to relieve some of the pressure (please know I never would, but in my medicine-filled haze, these are the thoughts I have), and that I needed to get better to cook the steak I had been looking forward to.

Craig came home to find me in a familiar state...flat out on my back, old-person's orthopedic pillow under my head, feather pillow on my face. The last of the daily allowance of medication had just been injested and I awaited for the pain to I tried to redirect it to my feet.

Craig immediately said that he would make dinner. "No!" came the cry from under the pillow. "I MUST make dinner tonight." Very dramatic, I know, but it was very tempting to have him go to Wendy's and get salads and other take-out foods, that I swore that I wouldn't do again.

I didn't get up to make dinner, and dinner that night actually was Kraft Dinner. The kids were thrilled. They hadn't seen KD in about a year, before we decided enough with the boxed foods. I was annoyed with myself, and my head.

Friday: The meat was still there waiting, and I was determined to make a fabulous meal. I had leftovers of the potato mash from earlier in the week, and I was going to make some Clean bread crumbs for on top of it, and I would cook it in a casserole dish. Corn on the cob for the other veggie. I couldn't find a recipe for a steak dish in my ECD books, and our ECD book of recipes has mysteriously disappeared.

Online, I found a steak marinade that sounded good and simple. I switched the sugar it called for with Agave Nectar (which I think is really just watered-down honey that they make us pay more for because it's organic....and it has a fancy name). And I didn't use the white wine it called for, it was replaced with water. Not sure if it was a perfect substitution, but it worked.

I brought all of the called-for ingredients to a boil, and stirred them on the stove. Some fell out, and a great flame shot up scaring the bejesus out of me. I am very afraid of fire, but grabbed some courage and...I blew it out. It actually went out, and I moved on to a new burner. I call that Incident Number 1.

Incident Number 2 started with the removal of the lid for the sweet potato mash. A double-take, and a gasp later and it was thrown out due to the Science class mold that graced the top of the mash. So, rice again!

All in all, the kids were thrilled with dinner, Craig too, and plates were cleaned (well, nearly cleaned in Nick's case....which is great news).

Oh, I made the yogurt cheese which is in most, if not all, of Tosca's books. I made the veggie dip recipe, and we all hated it. Sorry Tosca, much too earthy for all of us. I can't imagine any kids enjoying it. Perhaps with a bit of Agave or Sucanat. I'm not sure.

That's it for now!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I am a very very tired little lady, and I mean that literally. I'm just over 5'1...most times I say 5'1 and a half....or if someone is conducting a BMI analysis on me, then i'm 5'2. And I am indeed tired.

Yesterday was a bit of a flop. I was supposed to cook the Jerk Tilapia with Rice Pilaf and Asparagus. It didn't happen. This whole planning ahead, and timing thing is getting the better of me. I am trying to make sure that I have enough time to make dinner, before we head out the door to in t-ball. Our digesting on Tuesdays and Thursdays take place in folding chairs, squinting into the evening sun, and making small talk with other parents.

Needless to say, we ate the pasta leftovers from Sunday (which were still delicious, AND gobbled up by the kids) and I vowed to cook the Jerk out of the fish today.

And, here we are...yes there is fish in my belly, partying it up with the asparagus and rice. Looking back, this is a meal that I never would have had 6 years ago (apart from the asparagus, i've always had a mushy love for asparagus). You see, I had a thing about rice. I can't believe i'm going to admit this, because it's fairly embarrasing.

I didn't eat rice for over 15 years because of The Lost Boys movie.

You read it right, a movie had that much impact on my otherwise take-it-or-leave-it attitude I had with rice. In the movie, Keifer Sutherland, asks the Billy character how he likes the maggots he's eating. Billy looks down, and the rice he thought he was eating turned into maggots by the evilness of the vampire folk. It was such a quick shot, but it stayed with me way too long. I had to force myself to try it again, and thank God I did, because then I wouldn't have attempted to eat sushi.

As for the fish. Shamefacedly, I have to tell you, mes amies, I only ate half of the tilapia. Although it's mild, there is just something about the texture still. I don't enjoy it, but I keep trying it with the hope that someday, by some crazy miracle, I will grow to love it. So far, no miracles, but at least I don't gag anymore when attempting to swallow fish.

Hannah and Nicholas ate lean hamburgers without buns. I couldn't force them to eat the fish. I was forced to eat liver once, and I threw up on it. One of my finest moments.

The kids haven't liked fish thus far, and i'm not going to push it. They like all other forms of protein, so it's not necessary. Hannah has even learned that the meat she eats is the animals that she has played with at a farm we visited. She said that she likes pigs....they taste good. Hysterical. I personally never touched veal when I found out it was a baby cow. It seemed wrong somehow. So, yes, another food item that will not make it into my meals.

With that said, I do think some beef would be good for tomorrow night. Steak, perhaps? Let's wait and see!

Monday, August 10, 2009

If the Pot Fits...

So many lessons learned today, mes amies, it's hard to know where to start.

Tonight's menu consisted of two food items from the ECD Family and Kids. Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Chicken Bites. I added a side of broccoli melted with low-fat mozza, hoping that the cheese would be the winning factor, and the whole thing would be devoured (how wrong I was).

The recipe for the sweet potats (ahh, that word..."po-tats", one of the many Nana-isms conjured up by my Scottish Grandmother) said to cook the potats until soft. But it didn't say how to cook them. I assumed boiled, but what if I was wrong and they needed to be baked? A quick look on the interweb told me that boiling before smashing was a regular occurrence. Good to know. I stuffed almost all of the SP cubes into the boiling water, and some didn't fit. Another lesson learned.....measure the pot vs. item being cooked. I refused to get a new pot, and boil new water, so the SP stayed jammed together looking like a steaming orange mosh pit.

I know I said it before, but reading the recipe BEFORE starting to create it is essential. The chicken dish had me putting all sorts of things together, like oat bran, flax, egg whites, water. I mixed them all together, and then realized that the egg whites and water were not invited into the mix, and are the glue that sticks the "dry ingredients" to the chicken. After cursing, and kicking the oven, I went about making a new batch, keeping the dry ingredients far away from the wet ones.

The meal looked somewhat like the pictures in the book, so I was pleased with that. I didn't find it that flavourful. Nicholas ate a tiny bit, and Craig said that he thought it was great (although secretly, I think he would say that even if I fed him cow poop because he just wants to make me happy). But Miss Hannah.....ohhh Miss Hannah. The girl did not want anything to do with the meal. Yes, it was upsetting because I could hear my own mother's voice in my head, "I cooked this wonderful meal for you, and you will eat it without any complaint." But, even with telling her that she could have a treat afterwards (yes, bad I know, but she needed to eat something healthy) she held vigil and did not eat anything tonight. Good for her. Standing up for her rights....except she's six, and this isn't a restaurant, there was nothing else offered for her.

But, with tomorrow night being baseball night, the kids will be dining on leftover Baked Ziti (which pleased Hannah when she heard this news), and I will be making Jerk-Spiced Tilapia with Asparagus and Rice Pilaf. Fish is a new protein in my life. I spent many years thinking that fish only came in the form of Fish and Chips. Eating unbattered fish seemed wrong, and I never attempted it. Since starting on the ECD journey, i've had tilapia a few times. It's not bad at all.

That's it for now!


OH!! - here's a ps. Does anyone else find it revolting to handle raw chicken? I had to de-bone the chicken breasts, and hearing the bones snap nearly did me in.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SUCCESS! I am a COOK! seems that I CAN cook after all. I just caught a glimpse of Craig and I at the grocery store on a repeat episode of Tosca: Flexing at 49. I noted that I can't cook, and Craig so nicely adds that I burn water. Not true, mes amies! Tonight, I cooked my first real meal using a recipe. And it was delicious. AND my family raved about it. This never happens. Hannah asked for seconds of the Baked Ziti, and was shocked to learn that there is tomatoes and carrots hidden inside. After the initial shock, and look of betrayal she gave me (Hannah does not like cooked carrots, nor does she like tomatoes in any form other than ketchup) she concluded that maybe cooked veggies aren't as bad as she once thought. Good for her I said! Nicholas left only a small amount on his plate, which is a big event. The little squirt weighs barely 30 pounds, and will be four in two months. His size is mystifying to us, as the rest of us struggle with our weight. So for a Newell to need to gain weight...well it just seems crazy to us.

So! Here are the pics of my family before eating said Ziti, and one of the divinely golden masterpiece created by me. I'm so proud. The lantern in the middle of the table is circa 1996, part of the centrepieces on the tables during our wedding reception.

Things I learned while in the kitchen;

1. Prep time = time to prep all the food before beginning to cook. I never really took that into consideration, and just started following the recipe from the top. If you read the recipe in its entirety beforehand, you may find that you have to multi-task. Like preheating the oven, while something else simmers away. That sort of thing.

2. Cooking ground turkey until browned. I believe that should be changed to Cooking ground turkey until "beiged", it doesn't get any browner than beige. Also, Tosca tells us to make sure that the skin was not ground into the turkey. I have no idea how to tell if it was or wasn't, but I decided to trust the president of the choice and deduced that there was no skin in my meat.

3. Wearing an apron is sexy. No really, I put on the white apron that Craig normally wears (although, on him, it's more of a skirt, as he doesn't wear the bib thingy around his neck) and I looked in the mirror and I was immediately thrown back into the 50's. But the way the bib thingy, well, hugs the girls (and by girls, I mean boobs) and how tying the strings at the waist, gives an automatic hourglass shape, it is just very girly, and kind of sensual.

Day One...Scared...yes Scared!

I woke up this morning almost a little terrified. I sat up quickly, like they do in the movies when they cut from a bad dream to the person waking up. I was a bit sweaty, and did the suck-in-you-breath thing. I was dreaming about making a beautiful dinner, and my children were happily eating it, and we were all smiling at each other. Doesn't sound like a nightmare, does it?

The reality is, we spend the most of our dinners convincing the children to eat. "Two more bites" is a common phrase used at our table (or in the living room, which is not to be used as a dinner table ever EVER again).

So, here I am this morning planning ahead, as promised. Tonight I will be serving the Baked Ziti, as found in the ECD for Family and Kids.

I walked into my kitchen, and I could almost see some of the counters. The next few hours will be spent cleaning and sterilizing the kitchen. Oh, just realized that I will have to become a bit of a cleaner too. Hmmm, perhaps lots of good will come out of this project!

Saturday, August 8, 2009 long long last!

I have been reading Julie and Julia, and I have become slightly obsessed with Julie. Yes, Julie Powell, not Julia Child. We have a few things in common. We are the same age (she is a Taurus, so she is slightly older than this Gemini), we both have a love for food, we both have aspirations to be writers (and, although my obsession is new, I believe her post-secondary education involved becoming a writer...i'll get back to you on that one), and we both have had to stop and think about what we want to do with our lives. Okay, it's not like we're kindred spirits, but it was enough for me to sit down, and get back to my blog. I don't know if anyone will read it, but I am happy enough to write again.

So, thanks Julie Powell, for the inspiration.

Now, what to blog about. Well....obviously Eating Clean. It's what I started this for. Originally it started because of the show I bullied my family into doing...Tosca: Flexing at 49. I learned a lot from filming, and from Tosca herself. So much was not aired, and i'm perfectly fine with that. I looked like a big blob, and it was hard to watch.

The one thing that was emphasized, which i'm glad about, is the fact that I am an emotional overeater. A disease? Perhaps. The jury is still out on that one, and i'm not totally convinced. However, I do LOOOOOOOOOVEEEEE.....even, lurve, food. Is that so wrong? Well, yes, actually, it is. I tend to take my love for food to new levels. I can go weeks, even months, eating properly, and losing weight and feeling good about myself, then BAM! I throw it all away for gooey pizza, or chips. Then the downward spiral towards small binging and self-hatred begins. It's a bit sad, I know, but perhaps writing about it will be my final cure! Ha! We shall see.

So, back to Eating Clean (yes, it's that important that it should be capitalized). Eating Clean is hard. Sorry Tosca, I really am, but it's one of the hardest things i've ever done. BUT...I do believe my horribly bad cooking skills, coupled with my impatience while waiting for food to cook, put a stopper into my otherwise good-intentions. Another downfall that I will try to change...(ohhh, "change" I hate that about "modify") is my undeniable lack of being able to plan ahead. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail...and all that jargon that makes one feel bad for being a terminal procratisinator.

I also hate waiting. I'm always hungry when I cook, and waiting 45 minutes for chicken kills me. I end up snacking, and then not hungry by the time the said meal is ready. I eat it regardless of my almost-full stomach, because I need to show the kids that the food is edible, so they will eat it.

Most meals I cook end up in the fridge, with a quarter eaten at mealtime. Then it grows mold, and then it visits the Green Bin for it's journey to the recycling centre. Or the dump. Rumour does have it that our Green Bin stuffs actually aren't composted, but just put in with the garbage. It's a rumour....I didn't start it.....must look into that later.

Julie Powell actually had a love, or at least like, for cooking when she embarked on her Julie/Julia Project. I, however, hate cooking, and fully intend on learning to like it. For my family's sake. No more fast food (even Clean fast food....and I have found several places to buy Clean(ish) fast food). I will be cooking at least one meal a day from Tosca's Eat Clean Diet Cookbook only. It's a huge undertaking for please bear with me if I swear a lot.

I still have over 40 pounds to lost (I have lost 55), and this little project should help with that too. Day One starts tomorrow, Sunday August 8, 2009. Wish me luck!