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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Family birthday photo

The best family photo we could get… The candle is blown out, we should be eating cake!

Today we celebrated Baby’s first birthday! As my cousin wrote me this week: a year with a kid goes by quickly, even when some of the days go by very slowly. So here we are. Year One gone already.

Since this day last year, I’ve watched Baby grow: from 8lbs to approx. 25 lbs, from 52 cm to approx. 71 cm. Watch out — she can reach what’s on the table now! She seems so big compared to this time last year, and yet she’s still so small.

She has six teeth and is taking her first steps. She went from dark hair to light hair. I remember wondering back then what she would look like in a year. I couldn’t imagine it, and now I can’t imagine her any other way.

I’ve also watched Baby develop into an alert, bright, curious, determined, energetic, lively, playful and social little person. It’s fun to be with her. Her giggle is infectious. She brings out the crazy in both her parents, especially her papa! And every day she does a bunch of quirky little things that make us both laugh.

Her fun these days is making music; squishing blueberries at breakfast; pulling anything with a string; playing with water; swings; books, especially turning the pages; riding in the bike trailer; and climbing over any obstacle, none of which are too big.

Baby making music

Baby making music with instruments received from maman and papa.

Baby exploring tunnel

Baby getting ready to crawl through her birthday tunnel.

It’s fascinating to watch Baby play and figure things out. The wheels in her brain are turning all the time. Sometimes I just sit and watch with quiet wonder.

We invited family for lunch to share the celebration. On the menu: gazpacho, slow-roasted salmon, a wild rice, corn and Swiss chard toss, goat cheese with fresh herbs, and peach blueberry cake with whipped cream. Even though it was quite an “adult” menu, it included some of her favourite foods: salmon, goat cheese, corn, rice, peaches and blueberries!

Baby eating birthday cake

Baby eating peach blueberry birthday cake. Yum!

Now Baby is asleep, and it’s time for us “new parents” to start our own BIRTHday ritual: bubbles after bedtime. As we get ready to raise our glasses, we’re reliving some of the moments surrounding Baby’s arrival and celebrating the day that changed and enriched our lives forever, being parents, and making it through the year with a bit more wear but no tear. Cheers to that!

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Fruit and banana yoghurt popsiclesEarlier this year, my mom gave me popsicle molds. The same ones she used for my brother and me when we were little. Nothing fancy, just the plain Tupperware kind.

Little did I realize then that they would be in regular use. Not surprisingly, especially with the recent heat, popsicles have become Baby’s daily afternoon snack. And I’m having fun coming up with recipes and flavour combinations! I think I’ve created my keeper though.

This recipe is healthy and versatile, using whatever fruit is in season. However, it works best with fruit that pairs well with and can stand up to banana. The banana mainly adds sweetness and creaminess, but also a touch of flavour. Think strawberry, blueberry, mango, raspberry… I find that stone fruit like peaches, apricots and plums don’t work well, even when they are super fragrant, same with melon. My two favourites, so far, have been blueberry and orange (using orange juice).

Baby eating popsicle

Baby eating her first popsicle at almost 10 months.

Recipe: Fruit, Banana and Yoghurt Popsicles

Makes approx 6 quarter-cup-size (60 mL) popsicles.

1 cup fruit (fresh or frozen), cut into smallish pieces, OR 1 cup fruit juice
1 two- to three-inch piece of banana
3/4 cup yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp maple syrup (depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your personal preference)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Mix until smooth. Fill popsicle molds. Freeze. (Drink any remaining mix like a smoothie!)

Sometimes I add 1-2 tbsp hemp hearts to the mix before blending. They boost the protein of the finished product, and add some texture.

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Almond Zucchini BreadI have my go-to zucchini bread — err, actually cake — recipe, but it’s nice to switch it up sometimes. Now that the zucchini in the garden are finally abundant, I’m stocking up the freezer with this almond zucchini bread.

The recipe is super easy. Like muffins, it’s the mix-wet-ingredients-mix-dry-ingredients-combine method. The resulting cake is moist, with an even texture and a pleasant almond flavour.

Recipe: Almond Zucchini Bread

This recipe is adapted from a blog called Whet Your Appetite. I’ve significantly reduced the sugar, because I prefer my cakes less sweet, and the other flavours can shine through. I make this recipe into two medium-sized loaves, but I imagine you could also bake one large cake.

3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tsp almond extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup ground almonds
Sliced or slivered almonds for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two loaf pans.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, yoghurt and almond extract.

Combine wet ingredients with dry; do not overmix. Fold in grated zucchini and ground almonds. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle with sliced or slivered almonds if desired.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

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My Green Thumb Confesses

Garlic harvest

Just-dug-up garlic. Beautiful big bulbs, although most of them have only 4 (large) cloves.

My green thumb really is not so green this year. Even though digging in the dirt and feeling the earth between my fingers would have a welcome therapeutic effect on my soul, I have barely spent any time gardening this spring and summer. I’m finding it difficult to take a break from baby care, at a time when it isn’t too hot outside, to exercise my green thumb.

The real gardener this year is David. He weeded, prepared the beds and planted seeds and seedlings. He waters the veggie patch, wages war with the weeds,  and reports back regularly on new sprouts, what’s ready to harvest and the latest destruction by the squirrels and groundhog.

Squirrel wasteland

What’s left of the radishes — tops and tails — after the passage of the squirrels. A wasteland.

David’s parents also lent a hand for a day back in spring to help get the garden in shape and sow the first rows — we just harvested the beets from that planting!
Freshly harvested beets getting ready for pickling

Freshly harvested beets, getting ready for pickling.

I admit to being a lazy gardener, but this is extreme, and sad. think I did more last year, when I was pregnant! At least I’m not letting the early harvest go to waste. Every day, I take pleasure in picking whatever is ripe and ready and transforming the fresh veggies into a meal.

Meanwhile, I’m thankful that the garden is as important to David as it is to me, that he is making sure it is thriving when I can’t.

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A Magical Garden

Just back from visiting my parents in Richmond, B.C.. One of the things I like most about visiting them, especially in the summer, is their garden. It really is a magical place: big, lush, and colourful. There are fruit trees that provide abundantly, garden art hidden among the greenery and surprising you at every turn, a little man-made stream that babbles all day long – soothing sounds – and, of course, a vegetable garden. It’s a place to play, to relax, to meet, to eat, and to enjoy!

Bird's eye view of my parents' gardenBird's eye view of my parents' gardenBird's eye view of my parents' gardenThe "spring" and garden art in my parents' gardenThe "stream" in my parents' gardenAsian-inspired statue in my parents' gardenRabbit statue in my parents' gardenVegetable garden in my parents' gardenRipening cherries in my parents' gardenUnripe figs in my parents' garden

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Herb Butter

Fresh herbs for making herb butter.

Herb butter is a handy condiment to have on hand. It adds a taste of summer to steak, baked or roasted potatoes, pasta, sautéed vegetables, fresh crusty bread…

I make a batch once the herbs in my garden are established and starting to get big. All it takes is a handful of fresh herbs – whatever combination you have or prefer – and half a pound of softened butter.

My food processor doesn’t do well with herbs. I chop them finely first, then put them in the food processor with the butter and several pinches of salt. Blend until well combined. Herb butter keeps well, so I put half the batch in the fridge and the other half in the freezer.

Freshly made herb butter.

Freshly made herb butter.

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Locally Grown

Locally grown: baby and vegetables

Homegrown vegetables for my midwife and my little sprout.

My baby girl was born just over a week ago, at the same time as a generous harvest of tomatoes, zucchini, beans, kale and Swiss chard from our garden. That means my midwife has been getting “bonus pay” in vegetables!

At the end of every house call — there were three in the first five days after birth — my midwife would leave our house with a bag full of fresh garden goodies. One day she even forgot her baby check-up bag in our living room, leaving instead with just the bag of vegetables!

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