I'm excited! I'm taking a course on developing a course. Which sounds redundant, but if I'm going to the effort of producing a course, I want it to be the best and most supportive and useful course possible for the most people.
So, I'm wondering if you would give me your opinion- you can comment on this post, on my Facebook page, or send me an email. I'm offering one-on-one calls this week and the next, so if you'd like to participate in my course development and share your opinions with me, I would love to set up that call. Here's a handy appointment scheduler! You just need to give me 20 minutes of your time.
I'm thinking about offering a course based on these ideas. I'd love your opinions and ranking on these- what you would like to see first, second, third, and fourth. The names are subject to change- this is just a general idea of what I'm thinking of.
Thanks for your thoughts and comments! I can't wait to get creating- but there's homework to do first, and I'm doing it.
Enjoy the rest of your week, friends!
Last night I introduced our kids to soup with dumplings.
When I was a child, my mom used to take a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and somehow throw it all together and end up with a big pot full of yummy. To this day, homemade soup is one of my most favourite meals to create. It's nutritious, easy on the wallet, and perfect to use up the little bits and pieces left in your fridge and pantry at the end of the month.
It rained all day yesterday, a cold and driving rain, the wind was blustery, and altogether miserable. Not that I'm complaining...we need the rain. But we really didn't want to turn the furnace on again, and our house was so cold. This soup did a marvelous job of warming us up from the inside-out.
Dumplings are really easy to make, just a bit gooey while you're mixing up the dough. My second son thought he "sort of, kind of, maybe liked them", and my first son gobbled his up.
Dumplings are basically baking powder biscuits cooked in the soup. They get dropped in to boiling soup in small globs of dough, where they expand and grow as they cook. They're moist, because they get cooked in hot stock. They absorb some of the liquid, so you do want a good amount of soup to work with. You can flavour them with seasoning, spices, herbs, cheese, garlic...anything you want, really. It would be a great way to add interesting layers of flavour to your soup. For the boys though, I wanted to go with plain. Change is hard! Adding dough to the soup was change enough for those two.
The best thing about soup is that you can use up your leftovers- less food waste, and your budget goes further. And homemade soup is invariably more nutritious than store bought. You control the ingredients you add.
Leftover soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with fresh vegetables is what we're enjoying for dinner tonight. Tomorrow morning's #tuesdaysoupseries giveaway is this childhood turkey soup with dumplings recipe.
Do you have any special recipes you turn to when the weather is foul or when you need a throwback to comfort food from your childhood?
Enjoy your day, friends,
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We just passed Victoria Day, the Canadian long weekend in May that typically delineates when it's safe to feel like winter is gone and we can scoot ahead to summer. Spring usually gets lost in the shuffle, here, because it's such a fleeting season for us...most years.
Most years, spring is marked by more winter interspersed with almost summer. Temperatures can drop well below the freezing mark one day, and shoot up to high teens/low twenties (degrees Celsius) the next. Most springs we receive at least one heavy snow fall, and I have had many blisters over the years from cracking and clearing ice on the sidewalk that resulted from repeated snow melt and refreezing.
Most years, a few people succumb to the gardening itch and plant early, only to have their hearts broken by overnight frost. Most years, spring (outdoor) soccer means cheering on my sons through rain/snow/biting wind, battling fierce clouds of mosquitoes, or getting sunburned.
Spring in the Edmonton, Alberta area is like every season rolled into one.
This year, spring started really, really early. I took a walk through the river valley on March 5, and our river was almost completely free of ice and snow. I have never seen that before. We waited for the usual snow storm or blizzard, but it didn't happen.
Combined with a very low snowfall from the previous winter, a significant lack of rain in the region, and significantly above average temperatures, in early May our relative humidity was sitting at just 10%- the same level as the city of Fort McMurray, which has been battling an out-of-control wildfire of epic proportions for the last 4 weeks.
The forecast calls for more rain and thunderstorms today and tomorrow, (the louder and more violent the better, in my books!) and then later in the week a return to sunny summer weather. You'll find me out on the deck reading or in the river valley walking, enjoying every moment of the sunshine and birdsong as possible. It's time to start thinking about foods that scream "spring" or "summer", so we don't have to heat up the house. Here's my shortlist. What's on yours?
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, friends!
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Did you know? On Facebook each Wednesday I post a new recipe based on the #testkitchen dinner we ate the night before. It's part of my #tuesdaysoupseries! It is weather dependent, of course, based on what it's doing outside in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta...it's mostly been soups, but as spring and summer inch closer I'll move along into sandwiches or salads too.
To get the recipe in beautiful pdf format, the only thing you have to do is show up, like the post, comment your answer to my question, and share it to your timeline or group, and I'll pm you the recipe.
If you haven't already "liked" my Facebook page, please head over there now to "like" it- then you shouldn't miss any updates! And, my weekly recipe is available right now- this is #7! To receive the others, just let me know you want them too.
Enjoy your Wednesday, friends!
(AKA the day we thought we were going to die...)
We were under a wind warning, and I could hear the wind howling through the cracks around my front door. I was supposed to fly out in a few hours, winging my way back to my country and family. WestJet had the flight listed as on time and good to go, so after a few last minute checks to ensure nothing was left behind, I made my way to the airport, enjoyed lunch, and settled in to wait for my flight.
My seat mates were from Calgary, Alberta, and we enjoyed some pleasant conversation while we waited to taxi down the runway. Then we took off. A collective gasp from everyone on board when it felt like someone had picked up our plane and shook us like a pair of dice. Up, down, sideways, that sudden stop that throws your stomach at your head...she grabbed my hand at the same time I grabbed hers, and we laughed hysterically. "It's like a rollercoaster," she said, and I replied..."but there are no rails! And I don't like rollercoasters!" And muttered something about having life insurance.
Later on, once the flight had leveled off, her friend a few seats ahead mentioned she could hear us laughing like loons at that moment we all thought we were going to die.
So a big shout out to Lana. I'm glad we met and that we didn't die that day, and I'm sorry you got snow this past weekend after that fantastic hot weather we experienced the week before.
This was my first real trip without family. It was a fantastic week to get together with an old friend, and explore the area with her. I enjoyed meeting a couple of clients, and I got some work done- a course I've been putting off in favour of doing other things, all good things, but still, it needed to be done. We ate out at interesting places and saw interesting things, we met interesting people and enjoyed interesting conversations with them. We talked outside in the dark with a bottle of wine, we talked over breakfast on the patio watching the palm trees blow and listening to the birds sing. We talked while we hiked up Split Rock Trail, and talked while we hiked back down. We picked up where we left off 22 years ago, and it was such a pleasure to be with her again.
I learned a few things about travelling solo. If I did it again, would I change anything? You tell me!
So without further ado, here's my top 12 lessons learned while travelling without my family.
What travel tips can you share with me and others? What else am I missing? I would love to hear your thoughts in comments on this post.
Today is the beginning of my work week, since here in Canada we also had a holiday yesterday. I've got my work cut out for me. Be on the look out on facebook for my Tuesday soup series photo tonight, and the recipe giveaway post tomorrow. I've got a #testkitchen and recipe development day scheduled this week while I try to pull out new flavours and foods based on some of my recent travel finds, and a birthday party to plan for this weekend, as well as my tap routine to practice for our year end show.
I wish you a great week, friends, and look forward to hearing from you.
Lately I've been spending a day a week playing in the kitchen. It may not sound that exciting to you, but it's my favourite day of the week! Because I meal plan for clients, and each client is a new person or family that I get to work with, I like to spend my time creating meals that challenge the status quo in taste-bud land, or in real world prep-and-cook ville. I completely understand that it's challenging to put together meals on busy and/or hot and/or exhausted days, and that is why I do what I do.
Today I played around with a slow cooker sweet-and-sour chicken skewer, pan fried mahi-mahi, and created a chicken and pepper quesadilla. I used some new-to-me flavour combinations on the fish, and some tried and true stir fry favourites in the quesadilla. The chicken skewers taste good- but not as good as my amazing fish, and not an improvement on my original recipe, so that test is out the window. I used smaller portions to test this week and really regretted that decision when the fish was ready to sample.
I've been asked how recipe development works, and it's hard to explain. Some people find their creativity in painting or decorating. Some find a great deal of pleasure in gardening, crocheting, or quilting. Recipe development, for me, takes comfortable spices and herbs and combines them in a way that is new, or puts them to use in unusual or different food pairings.
Spice blends are a large part of my recipes. I always mix the spices separately, tasting as I add each one. If the food is still raw, adding spices before you know how they taste together can be a dicey situation- most herbs and spices taste better when given the chance to cook with the meal. If we wait to see how it tastes after the meat is already cooked, adding more herbs and spices at the end doesn't give the food enough time to absorb the flavour, and the spice or herb enough time to mellow into the meal.
Tasters are important to me, too. It's actually the third day of recipe development this week, as I can only make so many foods in a day when the rest of life is happening as well. I get challenged by ingredients just as anyone else, so when I challenge myself to create an amazing meal with a less comfortable ingredient, I rely on my testers to confirm my taste buds aren't biased in my favour. Sometimes the meal works, and sometimes it doesn't, but it's never wasted effort- just an opportunity to grow my repertoire and expertise. I usually have my meals tasted by a few different people. My husband, always, because he's got very sensitive taste-buds. I have a few friends that I call when I need someone to taste something new. And my kids, often. My youngest isn't the most tactful person, so I often get a really love-it or hate-it specific response from him- anything from "That's the worst thing I've ever tasted" to "Mom, thank you for this amazingly delicious meal! You're the best cooker ever!"
I'll fill my fridge with containers labeled with scribbled notes to remind me what I'm doing. Ingredients, or things like what time I started marinading, and so on. I'll work through those ingredients and keep what works, and toss what doesn't.
Today, as I was noshing down a bowl of amazing salad I created, my husband asked me how work was going. "Great!" I said, "This is part of my job!"
Best. Job. Ever.
Enjoy your day, friends!
I went grocery shopping on Friday, and refilled our fridge. Granted, it was getting a bit bare, but it's plenty full now. So when the first thing I hear from everyone in my family when they got home from school and work is "I'm hungry. What can I eat?" I motion to the newly filled fridge proudly.
"Well," I said, "there's yogurt and cheese, eggs, cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, apples, oranges, mandarin oranges, and pears. We have lettuce and coleslaw to make into salads or stuff into wraps, and there's cooked turkey and pork in the freezer so you can make yourself a great sandwich". To which is replied..."maybe I'll just have cereal" (says one) "Is that my only choice?" says the other. The third says, "I'll just go out and pick something up". Seriously? Sheesh.
To that end, I cooked a lot this weekend so there wouldn't be anymore "there is no food" comments. I made turkey and vegetable soup and lettuce wraps on Thursday and Friday, so we had lots of food for lunches this weekend. Saturday night I cooked a legume casserole (it was so good!). And Sunday was a food prep day for me to get us started on hot summer day meals. It's going to be close to July weather this week, and it's only May! I roasted beef, thawed out and cooked fish for fish tacos on Sunday and parmesan crusted tilapia for today, and made a meatless quesadilla filling for #testkitchen - I love recipe development! I cooked eggs for my breakfasts for the week, and cleaned up all the dishes that had somehow accumulated over the last few days.
I decided to make roast beef, because having cooked proteins in the freezer is a standard short cut I employ often when trying to make quick meals during soccer season and hot weather. It's a huge time saver, and helps keep our grocery budget down. A large chunk of meat cooked once can be spread out over many meals which brings down the cost per meal.
I chose to make fish tacos, because now that I've entered that contest to win a travel scholarship to Spain, I started second guessing the recipe, especially because it's been shared 26 times now, which is just incredible. Luckily it still tastes really good :) Phew!
Here's a shot of some of the cooking I did this weekend- the roast beef, fish (for tacos), and quesadilla fillings- sweet potato, navy beans, and brown rice. I'll get my freezer nice and stocked with that roast beef, and we'll enjoy some leftovers this summer. An important point to note when stocking your freezer is organization: rotate your frozen food. Put the most recent food going to the back of your section, however you sort it. Frozen food won't last forever, so do keep note of what is in there, and plan meals accordingly.
What did you do this weekend? Feel free to share!
Enjoy the week, friends,